Florida’s Largest Private Landowner Proves Things are Not Always as They Seem
by Orlando Beach
The Sunshine State invokes visions of citrus groves, the smell of oranges ripening in the air, and Mickey Mouse meeting up with Harry Potter in Orlando. When it comes to talking about Florida land, the vision that arrives is usually a swamp with the gator sliding lazily through the scene just waiting to snap its jaws. However, things are not always as they seem. In fact, Florida’s largest private landowner is a corporation that is based on timberland.
Plum Creek Timber contributes more than $16 billion to Florida’s economy each year, by managing 590,000 acres of timberland located primarily in the west and northwest areas of the state.
Instead of being a part of Mickey Mouse’s homeland, Plum Creek is known far and wide for their unbreakable commitment to the environment – from the growing and harvesting of trees to protecting and maintaining wildlife, plants, soil and water quality. Regeneration is key when it comes to this company, and the work that is constantly put into preserving habitats comprises a list a mile long. So, yes…the gators are most definitely helped.
For those who don’t know the area, there are immense tracks of timberland framed by rows of tall, skinny slash pines; these trees yield a great many resources from pulp to rosin to timber, turpentine and more. Filling in the Jacksonville, Lake City, Gainesville triangle, these tracts are more than historical. Dating back over a century, these lands were owned by familiar names, one being Georgia-Pacific, that worked hard to keep the area rural when suburbia was closing in.
Headquartered in Seattle, Plum Creek embedded themselves in Florida in 2001, merging with Georgia-Pacific’s Timber Company. Owning almost 600,000 acres spread out across twenty-two counties, allows Plum Creek Timber to reign as number one on the top of Florida’s ten largest private landowners list.
When you combine the full ten, you’re speaking about a group that owns at least a tenth of Florida’s entire land area, and most all of the companies are focused on timberland. Extremely important when it comes to Florida’s economic stance, from jobs being produced to keeping the freshwater resources and wildlife habitats intact, these landowners work to preserve agriculture and develop new business sectors in the process.
Geographically diverse, Plum Creek will continue to focus on actively managing the timberlands; investing appropriately in the markets and harvesting trees at the best point in time to help Florida make money and allow habitats to thrive.
This is sustainable forestry at its finest, with Plum Creek selling timber to customers throughout the United States. This means better manufacturing of wood, pulp and paper products worldwide. The timberlands acquired by this company use silviculture, which is the practice of controlling the establishment, growth and quality of forests to meet the diverse needs and values of the community. The results add to timber inventory, investments and manufacturing.
Being the first and largest Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), many invest in Plum Creek because owning shares in a timber REIT will allow them to increase their cash flow. This is a natural resource that’s thriving, and there are others to be considered. Within those trees lie natural gas, oil, minerals, stone and more. By maximizing the value of the timberlands, Plum Creek also delves into the resources that are just below the surface.
The name Plum Creek extends beyond Florida, with the REIT owning land in states from Maine to Wisconsin; but the pines in Florida will allow even more of an economic windfall when it comes to the biofuels industry. (The timber will be used in biomass-burning plants scheduled in southern Georgia, Gainesville and other locations).
Adding to that master plan is the creation of an inland port in Lake City, which is a community development just north of Gainesville. Plum Creek is also looking to merge with Floridians to develop an economic/conservation plan using 70,000 acres in Alachua County. Here, it is expected that one of the most unique developments in Florida’s history will be created.
In other words, move over Mickey, Plum Creek is most definitely number one on Florida’s economic ladder.
Source: Baret News Wire