KY NRCS update on support for forest improvement

By Jerry L. Adams
KY NRCS State Forestry Coordinator

The Kentucky Natural Resources and Conservation Service continues to support forest resource improvement through its Forestland Initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). KY NRCS obligated $823K in 2011 to fund needed conservation practices identified in either a forest stewardship or forest management plan. Fiscal 2011 saw an increase in applications from woodland owners, totaling $1.4M in requests. Eighty two contracts were awarded statewide to fund 1100 acres of Brush Management (invasive species control), 2750 acres of Forest Stand Improvement and 92 acres of Tree & Shrub Establishment. Additionally, just over $550K was obligated from the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) for forestry related practices.

Woodland owners compete statewide among other woodland owners for EQIP funding. This change, along with the establishment of the Forestland Initiative by KY NRCS, demonstrates its commitment to addressing the resource concern issues woodland owners are experiencing. Although funding for FY2012 is still undetermined, sources indicate that there should be little reduction in program dollars. Woodland owners with stewardship and forest management plans containing recommended conservation practices eligible through EQIP should complete a 2012 funding application at any time by stopping by their local USDA Service Center.

Woodland owners with outdated stewardship/forest management plans should consider applying to EQIP for a Conservation Activity Plan -Forest Management (CAP-FM). The CAP-FM is a forest management plan developed by a private consultant forester certified as a Technical Service Provider (TSP) through NRCS. Plans older than 5 years are eligible for the CAP-FM. Woodland owners are free to chose any one of the currently eight TSPs available in KY to complete the plan. Once completed, any CAP-FM recommended practices the TSP identifies can be addressed in future EQIP contracts.