State gets new forestry director

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson announced Tuesday that he appointed Michael C. Long to serve as director of the Division of Forestry.

Long, who has served as assistant director since 1996, will assume the post July 1, 2003. He succeeds L. Earl Peterson, who is retiring after 45 years of service to the state, the last 11 years as director of forestry.

As director, Long, 56, will oversee the protection and management of Florida's forest resources.

The Division of Forestry -- the largest division within the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services with 1,230 employees -- has been the state's lead agency for managing state forests for nearly 70 years.

Currently the division manages 30 state forests encompassing nearly 1 million acres and cooperates with other state and local agencies for the management of an additional 500,000 acres.

The Division of Forestry is mandated by the state of Florida to be capable of mitigating and suppressing wildfires throughout the state. It administers programs including Firewise Communities, Wildfire Mitigation Teams and Cooperative Fire Assistance. It also administers the fire danger rating system, provides technical assistance with prescribed burning and responds to emergencies such as floods, hurricanes and other incidents.