Mississippi Society of American Foresters

MS SAF Position Statement on Sixteenth Section Forestland Management

Position:

Forest is the predominant use of sixteenth section lands in Mississippi. It is the position of the Mississippi Society of American Foresters that Mississippi sixteenth section lands in forest use be managed to provide the maximum income possible for local school districts within the multiple use concept of management. Trustees of sixteenth section lands should strongly consider managing the forestlands in their care to increase school incomes. Also, Trustees should consider that sixteenth section lands in other marginal uses could provide greater income if placed in managed forest. The MS SAF recommends that the Mississippi Forestry Commission develop a comprehensive inventory and final report of all Mississippi’s sixteenth section forestlands to facilitate better management planning and increased income for local schools.

Background:

The public forestlands of Mississippi include "Sixteenth Section" forests. The origins of sixteenth section lands date from the earliest days of statehood in the 1830s. These lands have been designated in the public trust "for the support of public education". According to the office of Mississippi’s Secretary of State, in 1998-99 there were a total of 673,106 acres in sixteenth sections statewide. Lands are classified in one of nine categories, including "Forest Land". Forests are the dominant land classification of Mississippi’s sixteenth sections.

The sixteenth section forestlands are managed by the local Board of Education with assistance from the Mississippi Forestry Commission for the purpose of providing funds to support local schools. The lands may also be leased to private contractors for "fair market value". In 1999, 79 percent of all sixteenth section leases were more than 16 years in length.

According to the Mississippi Forestry Commission’s latest figures, there are 447,261 acres of forest on sixteenth section lands in Mississippi. From 2002 to 2007, there were an average of 111 timber sales per year on an average of 11,518 acres and the revenues averaged $15.2 million annually. The MFC is currently preparing the first detailed statewide inventory of sixteenth section forestlands.

Originally adopted by Mississippi Society of American Foresters (MS SAF) on February 19, 2002 and revised on August 24, 2007. This statement will expire December 31, 2017, unless revised by the MS SAF.