Mr. Robert Jenkins, owner and manager of Jenkins Millview Trace, is the 2020 Land Steward of the Year. Robert (Bob) Jenkins’ Stewardship Forest is in Millview, Florida, which faces the Perdido Bay west of Pensacola in Escambia County. Millview was a bustling timber town in the mid-1800s with multiple operating sawmills built on pilings over the bay. The locally cut pine logs were floated down the Perdido River to the mills and were processed and shipped by train to the Port of Pensacola.
Family and Management History
The Jenkins family acquired their Millview property during the Great Depression in the 1930s. By then, the local pine forests had been timbered out and Millview was a ghost town, a shadow of its former glory. The family moved to Pensacola in 1956 but continued to grow pine for timber and turpentine on the Millview property. The land is named the Jenkins Millview Trace in honor of the last small trace of longleaf pine forest in Millview.
Jenkins’ father had done a selective timber cut in the late 1960s but the trend at that time was to let slash pine naturally regenerate for the pulp and paper industry. During the 1950s and 60s the property was burned to keep lanes open for turpentine collection, but after that industry shut down, burning stopped and underbrush growth was unrestrained. When wildfires raged in the late 1990s on the west side of Escambia County, Bob realized his slash pine stand in Millview was at risk for a devastating fire due to years of fuel buildup from pine straw and underbrush overgrowth. Of equal concern were the subdivisions that had been built surrounding his property and the risk of what a fire on his property would do to these homes. His land, and the neighborhoods around it, had become a wildland-urban interface area and he decided to act.
In the early 2000s, working with his consulting forester, Stan Revis of the Tree Longevity Corporation, a long-term stewardship plan was devised to harvest the slash pine and replace them with longleaf pine. When established, longleaf pine is adapted to periodic fire, so the main goal was to keep the underbrush controlled by prescribed burns. This would allow the forest to be more open for easy walking and establishing varied wildlife habitats. This type of management also greatly reduced the risk of a wildfire for his neighbors.
Following the plan, Bob used prescribed fire to control the understory and planted the first of over 300,000 longleaf pines. He purchased some adjacent property to increase the acreage of longleaf pine from 375 acres to 600 acres. Most of the forestry work is done by Bob and Stan Revis and includes long-term planning, site preparation, establishing fire roads and food plots, herbicide application to control invasive species such as Chinese tallowtree and cogongrass, beaver control, prescribed burning, and hiring and directing tree planting crews. The property has been burned regularly about every three years. Mechanical mulching removes brush in areas where fire was not sufficient.
Community Outreach and Recognition
Bob has opened the property to fellow landowners to participate in prescribed burn training. He has experimented with longleaf planting techniques and survival rates by alternately planting rows of containerized seedlings versus bare-root seedlings. His Stewardship Forest and certification in the American Tree Farm System were recognized during the 2018 Escambia County Farm tour, organized by the UF/IFAS Escambia County Cooperative Extension Service.
Millview Trace is home to an abundance of wildlife including deer, turkey, dove, rabbits, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and wood ducks to name a few. Recently a deer hunting club of local families that include young children has taken on the job of planting food plots and enjoying recreational opportunities on the property.
Bob and his wife, Carol, have been married for 35 years and they have two grown children. The whole family, including a chocolate Labrador retriever, has helped with planting and working on the Jenkins Millview Trace.