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When white men first landed on the shores of Florida, they were greeted with a picture of forests of majestic pine trees. History records the remarks of these early explorers in which they expressed the value of these forests, especially for ship timbers in which the people of those days were intensely concerned to maintain their navies.
Upon settlement of the State, the forests provided one of the first occupations for man. The development of the State, expressed by early railroad construction and opening of ports and port cities, can largely be traced to the utilization of the forests for ship masts and timbers, naval stores, crossties, lumber, and other forest products.
During all these years and up to the present, these forests have provided continuous employment for thousands of people and added many millions of dollars to the revenue of the State. The latest statistics indicate that the revenues resulting from the harvesting of lumber, naval stores, poles, piling, crossties, fuel wood, pulpwood, and other forest products, amount annually to $125,000,000. The sum invested in the necessary woods equipment and manufacturing plants represents a capital investment of $95,000,000. These industries are providing continuous annual employment for 41,000 wage-earners with 205,000 dependents, with a pay roll of $31,000,000. The value and magnitude of these wood-using industries, dependent upon the forests, must be fully realized by all residents of the State in order that action will be taken to preclude any decrease, on account of the insufficient supply of raw materials, in the amount of revenue obtained by the State.
There are approximately 35,000,000 acres of land in Florida, of which 23,000,000 acres are considered forest land. On this area today, there remains about 4,000,000 board feet of the original stand of pine. The remainder is partially stocked with second-growth merchantable timber, trees of pole and piling size, and seedlings. These will replace the virgin forests and, when forest fires are prevented, existing seed trees will restock most of the blank spaces. The Florida Forest Service, a State agency cooperating with the Federal government, landowners, and counties are uniting in an effort to prevent and control woods fires. Protection from forest fires will solve seventy-five per cent of the problem of reforesting these forest areas. We are also fortunate in being located in a region of ample rainfall and sunshine, and in a type of soil in which the slash pine reaches its optimum growth. It will not, however, withstand fire. The Florida Forest Service is cooperating with 385 landowners and three counties in preventing and controlling woods fires on 1,348,092 acres of Florida's forest lands, which is a progressive method of assuring a continuous supply of raw materials to sustain the valuable wood-using industries now located in this State and encourage the establishment of new ones.
H. J. Malsberger,
Asst. State Forester
Excerpt from "Florida's Forests" Know Florida, Issued by the State Department of Agrilculture, Circa 1935, pgs. 29-30.
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