TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service (FFS) announced the start of State Forest Awareness Month, highlighting the vast importance and opportunities that forests provide to Florida.
“We are fortunate to be home to more than three dozen State Forests in Florida, spanning more than one million acres across the state. Our State Forests provide Floridians with clean air and water through carbon sequestration, and the filtration of stormwater as it recharges Florida aquifers,” said Commissioner Fried. “These public lands are some of Florida’s greatest natural treasures. I am proud of the work of our Florida Forest Service personnel tasked with managing our forest resources, protecting them for future generations of residents and visitors to enjoy.”
Florida is home to 38 State Forests and one ranch that span more than one million acres. The Florida Forest Service has guided the operation of State Forests for over 85 years with the primary mission of managing the state’s forest resources through a stewardship ethic that ensures they are available for future generations.
“Sound forest management of Florida’s State Forest system is very important,” said Erin Albury, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “These public forest lands not only provide Floridians with places to recreate, but also ensure our future natural resource needs – such as timber and wildlife habitat – are protected.”
The Florida Forest Service actively manages State Forests through sustainable management practices such as conducting prescribed burns. On average, the FFS burns 200,000 acres on State Forests each year to maintain the fire-dependent ecosystem and reduce the chances of catastrophic wildfires devastating communities.
Florida’s State Forests also offer a wide variety of recreation opportunities to the public, including hiking, camping, biking, paddling, and hunting. The Trailwalker and Trailtrotter programs recognize visitors for their time spent hiking and horseback riding on State Forest trails, while the annual State Forest Photo Contest encourages established and aspiring artists to capture the beauty of the natural areas.
To learn more about how to explore Florida’s State Forests, visit FDACS.gov/StateForests.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), manages more than one million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland, and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.
–Florida Forest Service