Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has announced the department's Division of Forestry will offer a pilot Cogongrass Treatment Cost-Share Program to eligible non-industrial private landowners in several north Florida counties beginning next week.

The initial focus of the program is to impede the spread of cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), one of the world's worst weeds, from Florida into Georgia. The nine counties sharing borders with Georgia — Baker, Columbia, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Madison and Nassau — will be the first priority. If funding allows, the program may be expanded to include Wakulla, Suwannee, Union, Washington, Calhoun, Liberty, Clay, Duval, Bradford, Holmes and Taylor counties.

In a separate component of the program, the Division of Forestry will partner with county road departments to facilitate the treatment of infestations along public rights of way, and in borrow pits used during roadway construction and maintenance.

The two-year cost-share program offers up to 75 percent cost reimbursement to qualified applicants for approved herbicide treatments of cogongrass infestations — up to $100 per acre for each year of treatment ($200 per acre total). Cost-share funds will be initially prioritized for and allocated to applicants with five acres or less of infested area, for a maximum cost-share of $1,000 over two years.

For an application and more information on program requirements and procedures, please visit your local Division of Forestry office. Contact information for the county forester office in your area is available at http://www.fl-dof.com.

Applications will be accepted from June 15 to Aug. 1, and will be evaluated and ranked according to the size of the area to be treated, the proximity of the infestations to parks or other protected natural areas, and the existence of a practice plan or multi-resource management plan for the property. This program is supported through temporary grants from the USDA Forest Service and will be offered only as long as funding is available.