Photo cutline at bottom. Click here for high-res image.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new era began for the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation April 6 as ground was broken for the Austin Cary Forest Learning Center, a 7,800-square-foot education and outreach complex in the heart of the UF-owned forest northeast of Gainesville.
The learning center will succeed and surpass the Austin Cary Forest Conference Center, destroyed by fire in July 2011. Fundraising and recovery efforts began immediately after the fire, and at the groundbreaking event, UF Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Jack Payne expressed awe at their rapid progress.
“I never thought we’d be here two years later,” said Payne, who noted the importance of forest products to the state’s economy — $15 billion and 90,000 jobs. Speaking to a crowd of about 400 supporters, he discussed the Austin Cary Forest’s role as an essential link between natural resources and agriculture, and the role that pine trees may play in providing more of the world’s biofuel and fiber needs.
Construction for the learning center is slated to begin immediately and should be completed in less than one year, SFRC Director Tim White told attendees. The learning center will greatly enhance the school’s ability to provide distance education from Austin Cary Forest and accommodate large in-person events there, he said.
“This is a community resource, not an SFRC resource,” White said. “Tell people we want it to be used.”
UF/IFAS file photo of Austin Cary Forest palmetto and pine, by Dawn McKinstry
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — This spring, the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation has two reasons to celebrate:
One is the annual SFRC Spring Celebration on April 5-6. Here, alumni and friends of the School reconnect, recreate and learn about SFRC’s latest achievements.
The other reason: This year’s celebration includes a special milestone — groundbreaking for the new Austin Cary Forest Learning Center at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 6.
Dignitaries speaking at the groundbreaking include UF President Bernie Machen and UF Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Jack Payne.
“This groundbreaking marks a huge step forward for the School of Forest Resources and Conservation,” Payne said. “Thousands will benefit from activities on-site at the new Learning Center, and many programs taught here will be offered via distance education to audiences statewide and beyond.”
The 7,800 square-foot building will facilitate education and outreach events at Austin Cary Forest. It’s larger and better-equipped than the conference center it replaces, said Tim White, director of the School. That facility fell victim to a fire in July 2011.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Forest industry professionals know it’s important to screen pine seeds for the presence of the fungus that causes pitch canker disease – so important that many countries require screening before importing seeds.
But the screening method currently endorsed by the International Seed Testing Association is slow and yields uncertain results, according to a research team that developed an alternative method and reported it in the October 2012 issue of the journal Forest Pathology.
That method, known as the blotter paper test, involves culturing fungus spores present in pine seed, then examining any suspect fungal colonies to determine if they contain the pitch canker pathogen, Fusarium circinatum.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To the owner, a tract of timberland may be a wise investment or a family legacy. Unfortunately, to others that same acreage may look like a great place to cook methamphetamine, poach deer or steal a few truckloads of logs.
To help North Florida residents prevent illegal activity on their land, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has joined forces with Florida’s Forest Stewardship Program and state agencies to present a one-day workshop, called Timberland Security for Owners.
It happens 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 at the UF/IFAS Columbia County Extension Office in Lake City.
“We have a great program that’s dynamic and interesting, and covers material that every forest landowner should know for their own protection and protection of the community,” said Chris Demers, Forest Stewardship Program coordinator in Gainesville.
Cutline at bottom. Click here for high-res image.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An 80-year search for a tree killer has ended, says a University of Florida forest pathologist who helped identify the fungus that virtually wiped out the Florida Torreya and fears it may threaten other species.
The fungus infects more than 90 percent of wild Florida Torreyas in their native range, which covers parts of North Florida and South Georgia close to the Apalachicola River, said Jason Smith, an associate professor with UF’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Smith is part of a research team that discovered the fungus, Fusarium torreyae, and formally described it in the journal Mycologia. Personnel from Atlanta Botanical Garden and the state Department of Environmental Protection are also involved.
Photo cutline below. Click here for high-resolution image.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To help the University of Florida raise $1.5 million needed to build the new Austin Cary Forest Learning Center, the Jacksonville-based forest products company Rayonier has donated $75,000.
The donation was celebrated at a ceremony today in the 2,040-acre Austin Cary Forest, located about six miles northeast of Gainesville. It was attended by Rayonier executives and administrators from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The funds will support a 7,800 square-foot building that includes a spacious conference room, a classroom, library, kitchen, gallery and large wrap-around porch. It will include an elevated deck built out over the surface of Lake Mize. With high ceilings, clean lines and large timbers, the building is designed to complement its natural surroundings.
The learning center is needed to replace the Austin Cary Forest Conference Center that opened in 1986, remembered by thousands of current and former Alachua County residents as a place where UF classes met and special events were held. That building was destroyed by fire in July 2011.
Cutline at bottom. Click here for high-resolution image.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Feral hogs wreak havoc on Florida’s natural areas but a new University of Florida study shows that control measures often fail; now, researchers are investigating how the animals outwit removal efforts.
“Feral hogs are definitely one of our more noticeable invasive animal issues on the Treasure Coast,” said Ken Gioeli, a St. Lucie County extension agent. “People have been struggling to deal with the populations and we want to offer them better options.”
The study appears in the summer issue of the journal Aquatics, a publication of the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society.
Florida has the nation’s second-highest population of feral hogs, after Texas. The animals are especially common north and west of Lake Okeechobee, and in the coastal Big Bend area, Gioeli said. They roam in groups and damage forest ecosystems by rooting in the soil and wallowing in shallow water. It’s believed that feral hog damage costs landowners and agricultural producers millions of dollars nationwide.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It might appear that the only people who profit from Florida’s forests are landowners, but a new University of Florida study says the trees provide valuable services to land users and people in surrounding communities.
As forests grow, they filter water, store carbon and perform other helpful functions that are known collectively as ecosystem services. These services are often overlooked by the public but UF researchers found a way to estimate their dollar value, which can exceed $5,000 per acre over 20 years.
Results from the two-year study, called the Stewardship Ecosystem Services Survey Project, were just published at http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/cfeor/SESS.html
Researchers hope the report increases awareness of the benefits of forestland and the opportunities that exist for Florida landowners, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
“This is a groundbreaking study for Florida, because it actually gets into the numbers,” Payne said. “It establishes dollar values for some—not all, but some—of the benefits that forests create for our residents and visitors.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A big yard or vacation property can be a great asset to a family, offering plenty of room for sports, recreation and relaxation.
But taking care of an acre or two, or 10 or 20, involves more than just buying a riding mower.
So the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has just published a handbook designed to help people with large, forested residential properties understand their land management options.
“Your Backyard Woods and Wildlife” is available for $18 from http://ifasbooks.ufl.edu
The 164-page book explains the basics of Florida’s ecosystems, delves into ways of earning extra income from forestland, and tells where to turn for more information and advice.
Click here for high resolution image. Caption at bottom.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation received a $50,000 donation Wednesday from the Florida Farm Bureau to help rebuild a learning center destroyed by fire in July 2011.
The school —part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences — is now halfway to the fundraising goal of $1.5 million for rebuilding the center, located on Lake Mize in the Austin Cary Forest northeast of Gainesville.
“We are proud to be a major contributor to the rebuilding of the Austin Cary learning center,” said John Hoblick, Florida Farm Bureau president. “Education is one facet of what Farm Bureau is all about, and this center will offer a quality learning environment as well as a place for university and community functions.”