Forest Management is a unique program throughout the Department of Defense. Revenue generated from the sale of forest resources is returned to the installation to offset program expenses. Over the last 25 years the program has generated over $6,000,000 with expenses of approximately $4,600,000. In accordance with public law, $650,000 has been distributed to both Highlands and Polk Counties to improve roads and schools.
Even though generating revenue is important to program stability, the primary objective is to maintain a healthy forested community. This is done by using selected forest management techniques. One commonly used method is to thin over-stocked timber stands. This reduces competition among trees, creating a strong and healthier individual tree. Residual trees are now less susceptible to drought, flooding, fire, and hurricanes which are part of the natural landscape of Florida.
The Air Force presently manages approximately 32,000 acres of various forested communities. These include 11,000 acres of planted slash pine, 15,000 acres of longleaf pine and south Florida slash, and 6,000 acres of cypress and mixed hardwood. The planted pine is managed on a 30- to 40-year rotation for commercial forest products. The longleaf pine, south Florida slash, cypress and mixed hardwoods are managed for biodiversity allowing only selected harvesting which promotes an uneven-aged structure yet maintains forest health.
Forest products are commonly sold for fence posts, mulch-wood, utility poles, and various structural lumber products.