APRIL 10 GOPHER TORTOISE DAY
April 10th was officially adopted by the Gopher Tortoise Council as Gopher Tortoise Day in Florida. Gopher tortoises are found in parts of all 67 Florida counties and are frequently encountered in neighborhoods, along roadways, and in many of Florida’s public parks and forests. The goal of Gopher Tortoise Day is to increase awareness and appreciation for these long lived, gentle reptiles. Banner photo of gopher tortoise above by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Gopher tortoises are considered a keystone species because they dig burrows that provide shelter for about 360 other species of wildlife, called “commensals.” These commensal species include the gopher frog, Florida mouse, eastern indigo snake, and hundreds of invertebrates like beetles and crickets. Without the gopher tortoise, many of these species would not exist.
While this species was not listed as endangered it is still a state-listed threatened species. Land stewardship efforts, especially those including the use of prescribed fire on public and private lands across the state, remain key to this species’ success.
Learn more about the gopher tortoise:
UF/IFAS Extension Gopher Tortoise fact sheet
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Gopher Tortoise Program
APRIL 18 TAX DAY
Tax deadline day is April 18. Have any harvests or other management activities taken place on your land this year? Many forestry activities we conduct can have tax implications. Generally, all income received is taxable unless excluded by tax law, and nothing is deductible unless a provision allows it. Understanding the forest-related provisions and integrating tax planning into your forest management can help lower your overall taxes. See the 2022 Forest Landowners Tax Tips guide.
*Dr. Tammy Cushing, Forest Business Extension Specialist at University of Florida, is providing an interactive forum about income taxes associated with timber sales, understanding your basis, and more on the online Family Forest community network. Connect to Family Forest Community here.
All timber tax information is intended to be an informational and educational resource for you and your tax advisor, but is not intended as financial, tax, or legal advice. As always, consult with your tax advisor concerning your particular tax situation.
HELP NEEDED WITH EASTERN DIAMONDBACK RATTLESNAKE STATUS ASSESSMENT
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been petitioned to list the eastern diamondback rattlesnake as a threatened or endangered species. They are now working on a Species Status Assessment (SSA), which they plan to have a draft of in the fall of 2023. This Assessment will be used for all decisions associated with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including whether a species should be listed as endangered/threatened or not. The assessment allows for State and partner engagement in the science used to base ESA decisions. This is our opportunity to let USFWS know how many eastern diamondback rattlesnakes we are seeing in Florida.
You can help! The National Council on Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) has an online survey where you can submit observations of eastern diamondbacks. Please be sure to observe snakes from a safe distance and don’t attempt to kill them.
ONLINE FOREST LANDOWNER ACADEMY OPEN FOR ENROLLMENT
Are you new to forestry and land management? Need a good primer on forest management concepts and next steps? This course is for you! Forest landowners, and others in need of forest management information, are encouraged to enroll in this self-paced online course to connect with forest management experts at the University of Florida and receive quality core educational content on forestry and multiple-use stewardship concepts.
The 7 course modules cover a variety of topics on understanding your forest resources, developing your management plan, timber management, marketing forest products, other forest enterprises such as pine straw and hunting leases, wildlife management, and planning for the future. Each module includes recorded video from the field or virtual classroom, links to references, and an assessment where you can apply what you’ve learned to your land or situation. The cost of the course is $150. Those completing the course will earn a University of Florida Certificate of Completion.
See and share course details in the Forest Landowner Academy blog post.
Direct link to enroll in the Forest Landowner Academy:
Questions about the course can be directed to Chris Demers, email@example.com, (352) 846-2375.
CONGRATULATIONS STEPHEN AND DANNA MATHENY, 2023 FLORIDA LAND STEWARD LANDOWNER OF THE YEAR!
Stephen and Danna Matheny own and manage approximately 90 acres in Madison County, Florida, most of which has been in their family for generations. Their land remains one of the last areas of intact groundcover and adult longleaf pines actively maintained with fire in the area, and they are working to keep it that way for many years to come. Learn more about the 2023 Florida Land Steward Landowners of the Year .See the FWC press release from their recognition at the Feb 21 Commissioner’s meeting in Jacksonville, FL. A tour of the Matheny’s property is in the works for the fall. Details to be posted in these updates.
NEW LANDOWNER ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE FROM QUAIL FOREVER BIOLOGISTS
Quail Forever is a non-profit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation through habitat improvements, public access, education, and conservation advocacy. We are excited to have Farm Bill Biologists in Florida providing technical assistance to landowners interested in improving the health of their land for wildlife, clean water, and other important natural resources. Biologists are available to assist landowners through the application process for USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Farm Bill programs.
Florida Quail Forever Biologist positions are supported through partnership with USDA NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife Framework and in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Our focus is Northern Bobwhite quail and upland habitats. Technical assistance to private landowners includes answering wildlife management questions, working with landowners to identify habitat objectives and develop wildlife habitat management plans, and connecting them to resources and applicable programs.
Those interested in assistance can reach out to either of our Florida Quail Forever Biologists: Nicole Itzkowitz, firstname.lastname@example.org based in Kissimmee (Central Florida including Lake, Sumter, Seminole, Orange, Brevard and Osceola counties) or Katie Maddox, email@example.com based in Quincy (Gadsden, Leon, Jackson, Calhoun, Liberty, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton counties). If you do not see your county listed, please contact the biologist closest to you.
Don’t miss out on news and events! Sign up for the regular email updates! Send an email to Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the email listserv. Florida Land Steward email updates are sent once a week or every other week and include the latest calendar of workshops, tours and other events; a link to the current issue of the quarterly Florida Land Steward newsletter; updates on cost-share and other assistance programs, opportunities, and resources; and other stewardship related news and information.
UPCOMING EVENTS AND WEBINARS
See our Events Calendar and News page for upcoming events and webinars.
ACCESS THE QUARTERLY FLORIDA LAND STEWARD NEWSLETTER ONLINE
Access the current and back issues of the quarterly Florida Land Steward newsletter here.
HAVE AN EVENT OR RELATED NEWS TO SHARE?
Drop a line with the details and link(s) to Chris at email@example.com.
CONSIDER A GIFT IN SUPPORT OF THE UF/IFAS FLORIDA LAND STEWARD PROGRAM
The mission of the UF/IFAS Florida Land Steward Program is to help and encourage private landowners to actively manage their land resources for long-term environmental, economic, and social benefits. This program is largely supported by partners and donors. If this program has made a difference in your land stewardship efforts, please consider a gift. Support the UF/IFAS Florida Land Steward Program here. Thanks!