Saturday, October 1, 2011

Storm Damage in Alabama

Recovery After Tornado and Storm Damaged Forested Land

From the Alabama Extension System

The Alabama Forestry Commission has estimated that the April 27 storms caused damage to 200,000 acres of land with over $250,000,000 dollars of timber damage. Land owners need to evaluate the damage to their timber and review management options. The AFC recommends using a Registered Forester to evaluate timber stands, damage, and management options. Based on the damage assessment, the landowner need to decide if there is enough saleable timber to support a harvest and how badly the stand is damaged. Insect and disease activity lower the value of storm damaged timber so harvest should occur within a few months of the storm. Harvesting the storm damaged timber is not just for salvaging the timber revenue, but also for opening roads and firebreaks and making replanting less costly. Consideration must be given as to how the storm damaged areas might affect adjacent stands. Fire is a serious concern here as storm-damaged stands may have considerable fuel loads on the ground that during a dry part of the year can become a fire hazard. Heavy fuel loads can be responsible for intense fires that move into adjacent forests and cause serious damage to standing timber, or even structures in some cases. Whether an area is salvage logged or not, the installation of firebreaks and road clearing around the damaged area may be necessary. In addition to fire, insect outbreaks, particularly bark beetles can become a serious pest of stressed pine trees. If wind has removed a good portion of the needles of pine trees, even though the trees and branches themselves may not be damaged, the stress may cause the appearance of bark beetles which then can move into nearby healthy trees. These types of infection are often seen after major disturbances such as hurricanes and severe storms. Landowners are cautioned to keep a watchful eye on any pockets of beetle infestation.

A decision is needed on the short and long-term actions needed to regenerate the damaged areas. Fortunately, Alabama forests will regenerate themselves without any intervention whatsoever. However, inaction has consequences the landowner must consider. A landscape with no managed regeneration will undoubtedly have a considerable amount of hardwoods, take longer to reach any harvestable size, and be choked with weeds and brush for several years. This may or may not be what the owner desires.

Storm damaged timber may qualify the owner for a casualty loss deduction for income tax purposes. Unfortunately, the loss is not the fair market value of the timber damaged but the lesser of (1) the difference in the value before and after the event or (2) your "basis" in that timber. The basis in your timber is generally your investment in the timber. Typically when land is purchased, gifted, or inherited, the value of the property is divided between the bare land and the timber growing on that land.

The IRS recently released "Timber Casualty Loss Audit Techniques Guide" which provides instructions to IRS personnel who are auditing returns that claim timber casualty losses. Additional resources that may be helpful are listed below.

The Impact of Casualty Losses on Forestland Owners by Dr. Robert Tufts

Timber Casualty Loss Audit Techniques Guide from the IRS,,id=238854,00.html

Alabama Extension System Http://

Getting Ready for Dove Season

Dove Hunting

Dove hunting is Alabama is a much anticipated past time. Each year about 3.5 million doves are harvested in the state. Many of the doves harvested early in the season are resident birds, with migratory birds comprising much of the late season harvest. Much of the dove population is found near corn, wheat, or peanut fields. Doves prefer to walk and feed on the ground free of dense vegetation, so removal of excess vegetation by burning or light disking may be necessary. Any field where doves are being concentrated for hunting should be at least 5 acres in size.

Management practices that are useful in September may not be practical or legal in January. September and October dove fields are often planted with browntop millet. It is highly preferred by doves and frequently used to attract them during the fall. Browntop millet should be planted in a well-prepared, fertilized seedbed, in rows 36 to 42 inches apart at the rate of 10 to 12 pounds of seed per acre. Broadcasting about 20 pounds of browntop millet per acre also works well. Browntop millet matures in about 60 days. Fields may be cut two weeks prior to hunting season opening or a scheduled dove shoot.

Dove proso millet is another highly preferred grain the doves readily consume. Proso may be planted using the same method as browntop. Proso should be planted at a ratio of 8 to 10 pounds per acre and it matures in about 90 days.

Sunflower is an excellent planting choice for doves. Any variety that produces small to medium sized seeds high in oil content are good choices. In Alabama, Peredovik is the most popular variety. Sunflowers should be planted no later than July 15 because it takes 90 to 100 days for the plants to mature. Plants should be mature two weeks prior to the opening of dove season. Sunflower can be planted in continuous rows spaced 36-42 inches apart. The recommended planting rate is 5 to 7 pounds per acre, spacing plants about 1 foot apart.

Alabama corn fields that have been harvested late summer probably have more late fall and winter dove shooting than all other types of dove fields. For those wishing to provide additional food sources for doves could consider milo, grain sorghum, and peanuts for fall and winter. These plants mature in 90 to 120 days.

Legal dove fields are those that are planted in normal agricultural method. Local Extension offices have publications that explain these practices, which include bush hogging standing corn, wheat, millet, and milo, or planting wheat or other small grain in normal agricultural procedure. Federal regulation require that all small grains used for dove fields be planted in a normal agricultural manner. This means that all broadcast seeds, including wheat, must be covered with soil and not exposed. Illegal practices that are considered baiting doves include top sowing o fall small grains without covering seeds, the use of scratch feed and salt, or returning to the field grain that has been harvested and stored. Manipulation of standing crops for dove hunting by bush hogging, mowing, burning, or partially harvesting a field is allowed as long as the grain has been grown in place and no grain is removed and redistributed on the field. Regulations change often so contact the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for further clarification.

For permits and additional information contact