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5.3 Results

The State agency responses to the questionnaire and information from Federal program internet sites were compiled and summarized to describe features and accomplishments for each program.

5.3.1 Federal Cost-Sharing Assistance Programs

Federal cost-sharing assistance programs for forestry projects include the Forestry Incentive Program, the Conservation Reserve Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program, the Stewardship Incentives Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program.

5.3.2 Forestry Incentive Program (FIP)

FIP was established by the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 to encourage timber production and the use of good forest management practices on NIPF land. It shares costs for practices associated with tree planting, timber stand improvement, and site preparation for natural regeneration. To be enrolled, land must be suitable for afforestation, reforestation, or improved forest management and be located in a county identified by the USDA Forest Service as suitable for growing timber products. Participants generally must own between 10 and 1,000 acres of eligible land (exceptions for up to 5,000 acres can be authorized) and cannot be primarily engaged in manufacturing forest products or providing public utility services.

State forestry agencies have the lead role in implementing FIP. The agencies help participants develop forest management plans and, if necessary, help them find vendors to perform practices called for in the plans. Some agencies have arranged for some or all management plan development work to be done by consulting foresters. The agencies also must certify that practices are completed satisfactorily before cost-share payments can be made. Payments are limited to $10,000 per participant per year and are not to exceed 65 percent of the cost of practices performed.

FIP is administered by the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS) in cooperation with the State Foresters. Fiscal year (FY) 1997 funding for the program was $6.3 million.

5.3.3 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

CRP was established by the 1985 Food Security Act to convert highly erodible cropland and other environmentally sensitive land to protective vegetative cover. It shares costs for establishing long-term resource-conserving cover, land rental payments under 10- to 15-year contracts, and incentive payments to encourage wetland restoration or use of continuous sign-up provisions. To be enrolled in CRP, land must be cropland that is defined as erodible or associated with noncropped wetlands or marginal pastureland that is suitable for use as a riparian buffer. Applicants generally must have owned or operated the land for at least 12 months; new owners must have inherited the land, acquired it as the result of a foreclosure, or be able to show that they did not acquire the land for the purpose of placing it in CRP.

Applicants offer bids for CRP contracts, which are ranked and selected for funding based on the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). The EBI rates the relative environmental benefits of land according to several factors, including wildlife habitat, water, and air quality benefits; on-farm benefits of reduced erosion; probable long-term benefits; and cost. Establishing a tree cover consistently rates at or near the top of the EBI scale. Payments are limited to 50 percent of the cost of practices performed, with an incentive of an additional 25 percent available for practices to restore wetlands. Land rental payments are based on the relative productivity of soils in the county, with an incentive of 10 to 20 percent available to encourage landowners who implement specific environmentally related practices to take advantage of continuous sign-up provisions. CRP is administered by the Farm Service Administration (FSA). FY 1997 funding was $200 million for cost-shares, land rental payments, and incentives.

5.3.4 Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

This program also was established by the 1985 Food Security Act to restore lost or degraded wetland habitat on private land. It operates by purchasing permanent or 30-year conservation easements on qualifying wetlands, or by providing cost-sharing assistance under agreements lasting 10 years or more. To be enrolled, land must be privately owned, restorable, and suitable for wildlife benefit. Wetland converted after December 23, 1985, land with timber stands established under a CRP contract, and land where restoration is not possible are excluded from the program. Participants must have owned the land for at least 1 year or be able to show that they did not acquire the land for the purpose of placing it in WRP.

The NRCS assists participants to develop plans to restore their wetland. Participants agree to limit future development of their land, but retain ownership, control over access, the right to lease the land for undeveloped recreation, and, with approval, the right to use it for activities compatible with WRP, such as grazing, cutting hay or harvesting timber. There are defined limits on the amount that can be paid for a conservation easement; the USDA pays all restoration costs under a permanent easement and 75 percent of restoration costs under a 30-year easement. Payments under a cost-share agreement cannot to exceed 75 percent of the cost of practices performed.

WRP is administered by the NRCS in cooperation with FSA. Funding for the program in FY 1997 was $76 million.

5.3.5 Stewardship Incentives Program (SIP)

This program was established by the 1990 Farm Bill to encourage multiple resource management on NIPF land. It provides technical and cost-sharing assistance to implement practices called for in a Forest Stewardship Plan. To be enrolled, land must be rural and forested or suitable for growing trees. Participants can be any type of legal private entity, including an individual, group, association, corporation, or American Indian tribe. They generally must own no more than 1,000 acres of eligible land, although exceptions for up to 5,000 acres can be authorized.

The State forestry agency helps participants develop Forest Stewardship Plans. Participants agree to maintain their land as described in their Plan and to maintain and protect SIP-funded practices for at least 10 years. SIP cost-shares can help pay for a variety of forest management activities, including development of the Forest Stewardship Plan; reforestation and afforestation; forest and agroforest improvement; establishment, maintenance, and improvement of hedgerows; protection and improvement of soil, water, riparian areas, or wetlands; and enhancement of fisheries habitat, wildlife habitat or recreation. Payments are limited to $10,000 per participant per year and cannot to exceed 75 percent of the cost of practices performed.

SIP is administered by the Forest Service in cooperation with the State forestry agencies. Funding in FY 1997 was $6.5 million. The program has not been funded for the past 3 fiscal years.

5.3.6 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

EQIP was established by the 1996 Farm Bill to assist farm and ranch owners in addressing natural resource problems that pose a significant threat to soil, water, or related resources. It provides technical help and cost-sharing assistance under 5- to 10-year contracts to enable owners to implement practices called for in a conservation plan, and incentive payments for up to 3 years to encourage adoption of desired land management practices. To participate in EQIP, land must be farm or ranch land and applicants must be engaged in livestock or agricultural production. Owners of large confined livestock operations--generally over 1,000 animal units--cannot receive cost-sharing assistance for animal waste storage or treatment facilities, but they can receive assistance for other conservation practices.

The NRCS assists applicants to develop site-specific conservation plans that address locally identified natural resource concerns. At designated times during the year, plans are ranked and selected according to their potential environmental benefit weighed against their cost. Priority is given to practices where State or local governments provide technical or financial assistance, and to practices that will help producers comply with Federal or State environmental laws. Cost-sharing payments cannot exceed 75 percent of the cost of practices performed; cost-sharing and incentive payments combined are limited to $10,000 per participant per year or $50,000 over the life of a contract.

EQIP combines and replaces four earlier Federal assistance programs: the Agricultural Conservation Program, the Water Quality Incentives Program, the Great Plains Conservation Program, and the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program. The program is administered by the NRCS in cooperation with FSA. Funding was $200 million in FY 1997.

5.3.7 Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

This program also was established by the 1996 Farm Bill to encourage development and improvement of wildlife habitat on private land. It provides technical and cost-sharing assistance under 5- to 10-year agreements to implement practices associated with wildlife habitat improvement. Any non-Federal land can be enrolled in WHIP, unless it is enrolled in another conservation program, it is subject to an Emergency Watershed Protection Program floodplain easement, or success with habitat improvement efforts is unlikey. Participants must own or control the land under consideration.

The NRCS assists participants to develop wildlife habitat development plans. Participants agree to install and maintain the practices called for in their plan and to allow NRCS access to monitor effectiveness. Cost-sharing payments cannot exceed 75 percent of the cost of the practices performed, and generally are $5,000 or less per participant per year.

WHIP is administered by the NRCS. A multi-year appropriation passed in FY 1997 averaged approximately $8 million per year.

5.3.8 State Forestry Cost-Share Assistance Programs

Funding for reforestation and timber stand improvement projects are available through State cost-sharing programs in 8 of the 13 Southern States, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. State-level programs also have been enacted in Oklahoma and Georgia but have not been funded to date. Florida has implemented programs in past years; but they have been discontinued. In addition to the reforestation and stand improvement assistance programs, four States--Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia--have implemented cost-sharing programs for water-quality protection practices. Alabama

The Alabama Agricultural and Conservation Development Commission Program was enacted in 1985, in response to cutbacks in funding for Federal conservation and reforestation cost-sharing programs. The program is administered by the Alabama Agriculture and Conservation Commission. The Alabama Forestry Commission provides technical support for forestry practices. Funding is provided through State general funds. Eligible land includes private, State, and other non-Federal public holdings of 20 acres or more, with a minimum treatment area of 1 acre. Approved forestry practices include tree planting, site preparation, natural regeneration, timber stand improvement, prescribed burning, permanent fire lane construction, and some soil and water quality protection practices. The cost-share rate is up to 60 percent, with a maximum payment of $3,500 per year. Most practices must be maintained for 10 years, 5 years of maintenance are required for timber stand improvement. Practice priorities are determined by the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

In 2000, disbursements totaling $750,000 were made for reforestation and timber stand improvements on about 20,000 acres--more than double the 1994 disbursement of $349,000. Small increases in future funding are anticipated. Florida

No State-level cost-sharing programs are currently available in Florida and none are anticipated in the near future. As a result of USDA Forest Service inventory reports indicating overcutting of baldcypress in Florida's panhandle region, the Federal FIP program has been restructured to give highest priority to landowner projects for cypress plantings.

The Florida Reforestation Incentives Program was established through a joint agreement between the Florida Division of Forestry and the Florida Forestry Association in 1981 to encourage reforestation on private land by providing reimbursement for seedling costs. The program was discontinued in 1993 due to budget cuts at the Division of Forestry and the resulting closure of all but one State tree nursery.

The Florida Plant a Tree Trust Fund Program, which was established in 1991 to increase urban tree planting and rural reforestation and was administered by the Florida Division of Forestry, has also been discontinued. Funding began in 1995 with a contribution of $70,000 from the Sunshine Gas Pipeline Company, a natural gas transmission company utilizing rights-of-way in the State. Eligible applicants included local governments, nonprofit organizations, and private landowners owning or controlling parcels of at least 10 and no more than 1,000 acres. Kentucky

The Kentucky Soil and Water Quality Cost-Share Program was initiated in 1994 to promote agricultural conservation practices. Initial funding of $500,000 was provided through an increase in the State pesticide registration fee. In 2000, legislative appropriations of $2,150,000 from general funds and $9,000,000 from tobacco settlement funds provided a total of $11,150,000 for the program. Practices are prioritized and funds are allocated to the conservation districts accordingly. Currently, agricultural waste control practices are given highest priority. Approved forestry projects are generally for installation of best management practices (BMP's). Twenty applicants requested a total of $64,379 in cost-sharing funds for forestry practices during 2000. Nine of the projects were funded for a total of $29,025. Louisiana

The Louisiana Forest Productivity Program was initiated in 1998 in response to concerns of possible shortages in future timber supplies. The program provides financial assistance to landowners for the establishment and improvement of tree crops. Funding is provided through a portion of the State's timber severance tax. To be eligible for the program, landowners must own a minimum of 5 contiguous acres suitable for growing commercially valuable timber species; no maximum ownership size limits participation. Landowners may receive 50 percent of the cost of reforestation and timber stand improvement for stand release up to $10,000 per year. Landowners must develop a management plan and maintain the forestry usage for 10 years. In 2001, $4,100,000 was disbursed for cost-sharing on 50,000 treated acres. Annual program funding varies with harvest levels and severance tax rates. Mississippi

The Mississippi Forest Resource Development Program was authorized in 1974 in response to concerns about the future availability of softwood timber. The program is financed through 80 percent of timber severance tax collections and is administered by the Mississippi Forestry Commission. Assistance is available on a first-come, first-served basis to NIPF and non-Federal public landowners. No minimum ownership acreage or treatment area is stipulated. Landowners are required to submit a management prescription for the desired treatment area, comply with Commission standards during operations, and maintain practices for 10 years.

The cost-sharing rate is 50 percent for tree planting, site preparation, prescribed burning, firebreak construction, and timber stand improvement. The rate is 75 percent for direct-seeding and mixed-stand regeneration. Payments are limited to a total of $5,000 per landowner per year.

Disbursements for cost-sharing payments have increased from $1,829,608 in 1994 to about $3,000,000 in 2000. Funding levels are variable from year to year, depending on timber harvest revenues. Annual treatments increased from about 39,000 acres in 1994 to over 63,500 acres in 2000. North Carolina

The North Carolina Forest Development Program was implemented in 1978 to increase productivity of private forests in the State while protecting soil, air, and water resources. The program is available to industrial (including forest industries) as well as nonindustrial owners. Funding is provided through a combination of State general funds of $700,000 per year and revenues of about $1.5 million annually from a tax assessed on primary forest products.

A forest management plan with provisions for assuring forest productivity and environmental protection must be approved by the Division of Forest Resources. Approved practices on a minimum of 1 acre include site preparation, silvicultural clearcutting, tree planting or seeding, and release treatments to insure the survival of the stand.

The cost-share rate is 40 percent for most practices. In 1993, however, a rate of 60 percent was offered for planting hardwoods and longleaf pine and for planting wetland species such as baldcypress and Atlantic white cedar. There has been substantial interest and response to the incentive to plant longleaf pine.

Program eligibility limitations are: (1) landowners are restricted to a maximum of 100 acres each year, (2) projects must be initiated within 1 year and completed within 2 years after funding approval, and (3) practices must be maintained for 10 years as prescribed in the approved management plan. In addition, projects not conducted in accordance with State best management practices may not be funded and may be subject to penalties under the State's Sedimentation and Pollution Control Law.

Program accomplishments include assistance to 22,666 landowners for tree planting on more than 766,000 acres between 1978 and 1999. In 2000, about 2,000 landowners received assistance for treatments on 52,000 acres. Some 38,441 acres were treated in 1994.

The North Carolina Agricultural Cost-Share Program for Non-Point Source Pollution Control was established in 1985 to encourage conservation practices, including tree planting, on erodible soils where water quality is being impaired. The program is administered by the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Conservation, and is funded through State general appropriations. The cost-share rate for tree planting is 75 percent of the average cost of establishing fescue up to a maximum of $15,000 per year. In 1999, 646 acres were planted in trees under the program.

A temporary program, the Fran Reforestation and Rehabilitation Program (FRRP), was established in 1997 to assist private landowners with reforestation and stand rehabilitation from damages resulting from Hurricane Fran (September, 1996). An allocation of $4,100,000 from the Governor's Disaster Relief Reserve funded the program. Cost-share rates ranged from 40 to 60 percent of the cost of stand establishment and improvement practices. South Carolina

The South Carolina Forest Renewal Act was enacted in 1981 to provide incentive payments to private landowners to increase the productivity of their forest land and to ensure a continuing and adequate flow of wood products in the State. At that time, some 2 million acres of poorly stocked or idle nonindustrial private land were in need of reforestation (Izlar 1983).

The Act directs the South Carolina Forestry Commission to administer the program and to ensure that forest operations are conducted in a manner that protects the State's soil, air, and water resources.

The program is funded through a combination of State appropriations(20 percent) and a severance tax(80 percent) on primary forest products. From the program's inception in 1981 through 1995, the General Assembly had appropriated $100,000 annually, and the forest industry tax had provided four times this amount for a total outlay of $500,000 per year. However, in 1996, the General Assembly increased its appropriation to $200,000, and the industry severance tax provided $800,000 for a total outlay of $1,000,000 per year. Funding in the future is expected to remain at this level.

All private nonindustrial land capable of producing at least 50 cubic feet of industrial wood per acre per year is eligible for cost-sharing assistance. The program requires a minimum treatment area of 10 acres for mechanical site preparation; otherwise, there are no minimum acreage limitations. A forest management plan must be approved by the Forestry Commission, and the project area must be maintained in a forest condition for at least 10 years.

Approved practices include natural and artificial regeneration, timber stand improvement, and prescribed burning. The average cost-share rate is 40 percent, with reimbursements limited to the amount needed to complete the project on 100 acres. For artificial regeneration, the program requires that all merchantable timber be removed before applications are accepted. Disbursements of $657,438 were made to landowners in 1999 for practices on 6,494 acres. The totals in 1994 were $515,736 for treatments on 5,904 acres. Tennessee

The Tennessee Reforestation Incentives Program was initiated in 1997 to provide financial assistance to landowners for planting trees on marginal and highly erodible crop and pasture land. Cost-sharing payments are available to plant pine trees and control competing vegetation. The Tennessee Division of Forestry administers the program. Funding is provided by the State Agricultural Resources Conservation fund, which was established with a portion of Tennessee's real estate transfer tax receipts. The cost-share rate is 50 percent of costs. Since 1997, total cost-sharing payments have ranged from $140,000 to $180,000 per year for treatments on 2,000 to 3,000 acres. Annual payments are limited to $5,000 per landowner per year.

The Agricultural Resources Conservation Program, which prior to 1998 was known as the Agricultural Non-Point Source Pollution Program, was initiated in 1993. It provides cost-sharing assistance for soil and water improvement and riparian zone protection practices on private agricultural land, including nonindustrial forestland. Costs are shared for forestry practices including application of best management practices (BMPs) on harvested sites and bottomland hardwood plantings. The program was administered by the State Department of Agriculture through the county Soil Conservation Districts until 1998, when administration was transferred to the Division of Forestry. Technical support for forestry projects is also provided by the Tennessee Division of Forestry.

The program was initially funded in part by a 3-year grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Continued funding has been from the State Agricultural Resources Conservation fund, which was established with a portion of Tennessee's real estate transfer tax receipts. Funding levels vary with fluctuations in the real estate market.

Annual cost-sharing payments range from $14,000 to $20,000 per year for forestry projects. A stewardship plan, modeled after the Federal stewardship program plan, is required. The cost-share rate is 75 percent for BMP application and riparian zone protection and 50 percent for bottomland hardwood plantings. Annual cost-sharing payments are limited to $5,000 per landowner. Texas

The Texas Reforestation Foundation Program was chartered and funded in 1981 by forest products companies in an effort to increase the productivity of private non-industrial woodlands and thereby ensure future timber supplies. The program is administered by the Texas Forestry Association. Technical assistance is provided by the Texas Forest Service. To apply for funds, a landowner must submit a forest management plan for projects located in the commercial forestry region of east Texas. The cost-sharing rate is 50 percent for land clearing, site preparation, tree planting, and release treatments on 10 or more acres. Applicants are prioritized according to tract size, previous cover, and site index; higher ranking is assigned for small ownerships, cutover land, and properties with high site indices. The program requires practices to be maintained for 10 years.

All major forest products companies, as well as several smaller companies, provide financial support through a voluntary assessment on primary forest products. Funding is relatively stable at about $400,000 per year. Cost-sharing disbursements were $350,000 in 2000 for reforestation on about 7,000 acres. In 1994, cost-sharing payments of $280,839 were made for reforestation and timber stand improvement on 6,096 acres. Funding has not been sufficient to meet landowners' demands; in most years over $1 million are requested for projects. Virginia

The Virginia Reforestation of Timberlands Act was established in 1970 to maintain a viable pine industry in light of 1966 USDA Forest Service forest inventory statistics indicating softwood removals exceeding growth by 15 percent (Marcum 1993). The program is administered by the Virginia Department of Forestry and is financed through an assessment on primary forest products and matching State funds. Funding from the industry tax was $800,000 initially, increased to about $1 million in 1994, and was $1,274,000 in 2000. Matching State funds have not been fully appropriated in all years due to budgetary constraints, but in 2000, State general funds of $1,313,574 were appropriated.

All private landowners, including industrial forest landowners, are eligible for the program. Reimbursements are available for 40 percent of the cost of site preparation, tree planting, and brush control in pine stands up to a maximum of $75 per acre. However, land requiring reforestation under the State seed tree law is not eligible for this program, except where more than 75 percent of the stand is infested by the southern pine bark beetle. The minimum project size is 5 acres, unless planting is done without site preparation, in which case the minimum is 1 acre. The maximum project size is 500 acres. The program requires the use of BMP's within project boundaries and a 10-year commitment to maintain practices.

In 1994, disbursements of $1,014,331 in cost-sharing payments were made for reforestation and timber stand improvement on 40,393 acres. In 2000, payments more than doubled to $2,253,546 for practices on 75,900 acres. Funding is expected to remain stable.

The Virginia Agricultural BMP Cost-Share Program was established in 1984 as part of a multi-State effort to protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The development of a stewardship plan and compliance with BMPs are encouraged, but not mandatory. The program offers a $150 per acre payment for tree planting on erodible crop or pasture land in addition to cost-share payments from other programs. Cost-sharing assistance is also available for stabilizing abandoned logging roads and planting streamside buffer strips. The program is administered by the Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Funding for the program includes Federal outlays, State revenues, and contributions from private organizations, such as the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Funding for forestry practices has been around $50,000 annually.

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