Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Forest Management Plans: A Win-Win

Adirondack Forest and FieldGot Woods? If so, there may be a way for you to maximize your woodlot and maybe even your wallet. Funds are available through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) to help landowners with the development of a Forest Management Plan for their properties.

Zack Hanan of the Town of Hope, Hamilton County, recently applied for a Forest Management Plan and described the application process as quite easy with guidance from Tom Bielli, District Conservationist, United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  Zack provided Tom the goals for his property and they worked together to develop a management plan. Meaningful information was provided about Zack’s woodlands that he was not aware of and he learned about numerous opportunities for improvements.

The plan includes a detailed description of forest inventory and a time-line for its harvesting; potential issues with insects; invasive plants and measures for their control; waters, wetlands, and soil descriptions; forest stands and their respective topographic maps; and a description of wildlife habitat and recommendations for improvement. Zach was pleased to meet a forester who will continue to provide him with input and service in the years ahead to meet the plan’s goals. In addition to all the benefits of a Forest Management Plan for a woodland owner, the cost sharing by NRCS is an added benefit that served as Zack’s initiative to participate in the program.

The NRCS is a non-regulatory agency that provides technical and financial assistance to landowners for conservation related activities and offers ongoing land management programs. Funds are available for private landowners who want to keep their forested lands sustainable for the future. The process is easy and there are no acreage limits.

Once a plan has been developed, landowners can apply for additional funds to help with the implementation of their plan. Implementation practices can include, but are not limited to, the development of forest trails and landings, forest stand improvement (chemical and/or mechanical thinning), herbaceous weed control, tree and shrub establishment, pruning, and invasive species control.

Forest landowners who already have a Forest Management Plan and have been managing their woodlot may be eligible to receive money annually to support and encourage good stewardship through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The plan does not have to be a NYS 480a Plan for landowners to be eligible for funding.

Applying for either the CSP or the EQIP is a win-win for the applicant and Adirondack Park’s natural resources. These government programs will pay for the development of forest management and wildlife plans. Get paid for doing the right thing.

For more information about EQIP, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/farmbill/?cid=stelprdb1237774. For Hamilton County inquiries, contact Tom Bielli at thomas.bielli@ny.usda.gov, 518-853-4015, or find your local USDA NRCS office at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=NY.

Photo courtesy Shannon Houlihan.

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Caitlin Stewart manages the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District. The District's mission is to manage and promote the wise use of Natural Resources in Hamilton County. Caitlin will be sharing the District's conservation-focused services, programs, and events. She’s been a full time resident of Hamilton County since 2008 and is an avid hiker, skier, paddler, and biker. She is obsessed with adventuring with her dog Artemis.

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