Current Tree Farm Operations
Prior to Miami Corporation, the property’s silviculture (tree farming) areas had been cut to the point of near depletion. Today, Farmton’s 59,000 acres continue to be primarily managed for silviculture pursuant to approved and adopted conservation management plans in both Volusia and Brevard counties.
Since Miami Corporation’s ownership began in the 1920's, there have been only four Directors of Tree Farm Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the timber and the property along with a small crew of equipment operators. The crew is involved full time with timber operations including site preparation and planting, road and fire line maintenance, and fire fighting and prevention. Timber removal is done by independent loggers who contract with our company to purchase and remove the trees and truck them to sawmills.
Forest management means dealing with constant cycles of rainfall, fire, and insect infestations, which often follow fires. Minor fires occur every year during the “fire season”. Major fires in 1981, 1998 and 2011 destroyed tens of thousands of acres of standing trees. The burned areas were salvaged where possible, then replanted to begin the cycle again.
Hunting, Grazing and Mitigation Banking
Hunting and grazing have long been used to supplement timber income on the Farmton tract. Miami Corporation still grants traditional grazing leases on smaller portions of the tract, but it is hunting that has traditionally been the main ancillary use of the property.
In the 1950’s, Miami Corporation executed a wildlife management area agreement with The Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission (now known as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) covering a majority of the tract. The Commission managed the area as a wildlife management area, with hunting open to the public, until 2000. Other smaller areas of the tract are and have been under private leases.
In 2001, due to concerns about the impacts large numbers of hunters were having on wildlife and the natural features of the land, our company placed the wildlife management area under a private hunting lease. The smaller number of hunters has allowed a rebound in the wildlife population partially from hunter management and hunter-imposed restrictions on the taking of wildlife (that are stricter than State rules). The private hunters are a beneficial presence on the land; among other activities, they volunteer for fire watching duty during fire season.
In 2000, Miami Corporation received a permit from the St. Johns Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allowing a mitigation bank on portions of the tract for stewardship, management of timber, and wildlife management and to sell mitigation credits. As part of the Conservation Management Plan, the entire 24,000-acre mitigation bank was placed under conservation easement or covenant and is being managed in accordance with the terms of the permit. As part of the mitigation bank, these wetlands and uplands will never be developed.
Conservation Management Plans
As required under the Farmton Plan, Miami Corporation has placed almost 40,000 acres under conservation, both in and out of the mitigation bank. The mitigation bank permit has specific requirements for the management of the bank acres, and Miami Corporation has managed and will continue to manage the land in conformity with the permit requirements. The conservation lands outside of the mitigation bank are now managed in accordance with Conservation Management Plans that were crafted by a group of stakeholders, including the counties, the landowner, Florida Audubon, the State of Florida, and a panel of experts in conservation management. Annual reviews by Florida Audubon and the St. Johns River Water Management District will take place to assure compliance with the management plans.