Florida Congressman Steve Southerland visits Tall Timbers

By Rose Rodriguez, Information Services Manager

On June 7, Congressman Steve Southerland, who represents Florida’s Second District, visited Tall Timbers, on a fact-finding mission, to learn more about the issues regarding management and conservation of our natural resources that affect north Florida. Congressman Southerland sits on the House Committee for Agriculture, and the subcommittee that includes conservation and forestry, as well as the House Committee on Natural Resources and the subcommittee that deals with wildlife. Key staff from Tall Timbers and Southeast Fire Ecology partners from the US Forest Service and National Park Service, Erica Taecker and Caroline Noble, respectively, attended the working lunch meeting with the Congressman, his legislative staff and guests.

Southerland at Tall Timbers for a lunch meeting

Congressman Steve Southerland, center, at Tall Timbers for a working lunch. L-R, Tim Southerland, Steve Southerland, Shane Southerland (foreground), Erica Taecker and Kevin McGorty.

Executive Director, Lane Green, gave an overview of Tall Timbers and the Red Hills region. The Director of Research, Ron Masters, discussed research conducted at Tall Timbers and forest management in the Red Hills region — the private land model and selective timber harvest. And, Game Bird Program Director, Bill Palmer, discussed the Upland Ecosystem Restoration Project (UERP), a successful public lands management model in Florida coordinated by Tall Timbers.

After lunch, Southerland and his staff were taken on a tour of Tall Timbers, with stops at the Stoddard Fire Plots and the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) cavity cluster trees. At the fire plots, Masters and Palmer discussed the importance of fire, the need for more fire in the Southeast, the causes of species declines, and cost-share/Farm Bill issues. At the cluster of RCW cavity trees, it was stressed that RCWs, a federally endangered species, coexist with game and timber management in the Red Hills, and that using the UERP model, RCWs are compatible with management of public lands.

Southerland on tour of Tall Timbers

Congressman Southerland, far left, and his staff listen to Director of Research, Ron Masters, far right, discuss burning frequency at the Stoddard Fire Plots.

After the tour, Land Conservancy Director, Kevin McGorty, discussed conservation easements and the need to make the enhanced easement incentives, which were renewed through 2011 for easement donors, permanent in this 112th Congress.

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