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Lumber Industry

Suniland Magazine


Florida derives no small proportion of her annual wealth from her forests, among the most extensive and magnificent in the land. When the first settlers came to Florida they found almost an unbroken forest, the only untreed regions being the prairie and swamplands, which covered less than 15 per cent of her entire area. The lumber mills of Florida are cutting her standing timber at the rate of more than a billion feet a year, and already her original forest area has been reduced from 28,000,000 to 15,000,000 acres. Florida's forests constitute her greatest single heritage, and their conservation should be one of the first duties of the state. A-present Florida has no forest policy, or no forestry service, but public opinion is gradually being educated to the importance of reforestration and conservation, and it is confidently expected that the state, so progressive in most things, will formulate a constructive forestry policy at the next session of the Legislature.

Florida's resources of yellow pine are larger than those of any other state and her long-leaf forests are in themselves greater than the aggregate area of all the long-leaf pine forests of the South Atlantic States, every single one of her counties having a more or less extensive supply of this valuable timber. Her net long-leaf pine area approximates 18,000,000 acres, of which more than ten million are virgin. Her present stand of merchantable pine is estimated at 35,000,000,000 feet. Other commercial trees are short leaf and loblolly pine, a large variety of oak, cypress, gum, hickory, and a myriad of other hardwoods. Florida's forests, indeed, are said to contain more than two hundred different trees altogether, some of them peculiar to the state. In Liberty County is found the largest forest of tumion taxi-folium, or gopher wood tree, to be found on this continent. Florida has two national forests, one in Okaloosa, Walton, and Santa. Rosa Counties, the other in the eastern part of Marion County. The former comprising 270,000 acres, is the largest national forest south of the Appalachians.

More than 18,000 workmen are employed in the 300 lumber mills of Florida, the present annual value of the lumber manufactured being about $40,000,000.

With a production that almost equals that of all other naval stores producing states combined, the naval stores industry of Florida is worth approximately $12,000,000 annually to those engaged in it. A few years ago, before the cup system of turpentining was introduced, it looked as though this picturesque industry was doomed, but this innovation and a growing appreciation on the part of the operators of the wisdom of conservation has greatly lengthened the life of the industry, and it is now believed that with adequate reforestration this picturesque industry can be perpetuated. The present annual production is about 10,000,000 gallons of turpentine and 750,000 barrels of rosin.

Excerpt from: Agassiz, Garnault. "Florida in Tomorrow's Sun."
Suniland, Nov. 1925, Vol.3, No.2., Pgs. 37-45; 88-94; 113-133


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