Forest landowners who have been approved for post-Hurricane Michael cleanup assistance through a special state program have been given a bit longer for the work to be completed. The deadline to finish assignments through the Forest Debris Management Program has been extended by six months to June 30, 2020.

“Hurricane Michael left an enormous trail of destruction,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Chuck Williams. “Because of the magnitude of the damage, last winter’s wet weather, and a finite number of contractors, more time was needed to complete the remaining open contracts.”

As of December 1, GFC foresters and technicians had certified the debris management on 396 contracts covering more than 60,000 acres of clean up. Approximately 35% of the contracts have been completed. Once the work is certified, payments are made by the Georgia Development Authority, with almost $6 million in cost share funding paid out to date.

Hurricane Michael slammed southwest Georgia on October 10, 2018. Then Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 28 Georgia counties hardest hit by the storm, which left behind more than $762 million in damages to timberland. Landowners with more than 10 acres of forestland or a commercial orchard of any size with trees damaged by Hurricane Michael were eligible for the Forest Debris Management Program, whose application deadline was in February of 2019.

The deadline for a second post-Michael assistance program is also fast approaching. The application period for Georgia’s Timber Tax Credit Program ends December 31, 2019. Much of the $200 million in credits is still available. The program applies to timber grown for the primary purpose of commercial production of food or wood or wood fiber products, so forests and orchards qualify. The tax credit is based on the diminution of timber value, not to exceed $400 per acre. To claim the credits, one must apply online through the Georgia Department of Revenue’s Tax Center. For more details, visit Storm Damage.

“We appreciate the efforts of forest landowners who have been dealing with the challenges of storm fallout and cleanup,” said Williams. “Our GFC team is always available to help anyone with questions about forest management and reforestation options. One of our main goals, to keep forests as forests, remains a top priority.”