Hurricane Impacts on Forest Landowners  

November 1, 2018 

Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence dealt a devastating blow to forest landowners across the South. Although the news cycle has moved on, millions of acres of forests have been impacted and landowners—including many SAF members and families—face hard decisions about the future of these forests. In Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, forestry officials estimate at least $1.6 billion in woodland losses covering over 5 million acres. 

In just over a month, Appalachian SAF raised over $13,650 to help SAF members who were severely impacted by the hurricanes. While these generous donations offered much-needed, immediate support, the storms wiped out decades-old investments and, though forests are resilient, a full recovery is many years away.

Small landowners, in particular, face tough times ahead as timber prices in the region are low and much of the downed and even standing timber has been severely damaged. Unfortunately, most of these are uninsured losses, as timber insurance is cost prohibitive in these areas, and only some landowners will qualify for casualty loss deductions on their federal income taxes. Likewise, mill owners in the region face difficult questions as they consider feasibility of investment in damaged infrastructure and make projections about future commodity supplies and markets in the region.   

Private forests provide a multitude of public benefits that must not be overlooked. These impacted lands supplied wildlife habitat and clean air and water to urban and rural communities near and far. In addition, they provided a steady source of timber, fiber, and good-paying jobs. Moving forward, these impacted landowners will need help and additional resources to keep these forests as forests and have them continue to provide the critical ecological, economic, and societal benefits that we all rely on. 

SAF is committed to working with Congress and our partners to help ensure that disaster funds, tax relief provisions, and other support programs be made available to landowners impacted by Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence.