The US Department of Agriculture has had a farmer/rancher cost share program called Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) (www.nrcs.usda.gov/PROGRAMS/EQIP), managed by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Recently the program was expanded to include foresters and private forestry land, opening up the cost share opportunities beyond traditional farm land projects.
I participated in an evening site assessment and educational program that explained the details of EQIP plus showed an actual site that had recently cost shared on forestry related projects. Three teachers from my recent Forest Stewardship Program were there plus representatives from NRCS/EQIP, King Conservation District, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Small Forest Landowner Office. Each presented information on their programs and personnel assistance that is available for King County and state-wide forest land owners.
EQIP has an annual application process (due July 15th this year) where forest land owners can apply to receive up to 75% of the usual cost for certain land/forest management practices. Applicants must either have a demonstrated history of forest management practices or else provide a completed Forest Stewardship Plan. Applications are weighted against specific criteria, compared against other applications, and positioned with the year’s available budget for EQIP payments. Then land owners are informed after the beginning of next year whether or not they were accepted for cost sharing, and for how much. Then the project is coordinated, receipts of work done by the land owner are provided, and the owner is reimbursed the prorated cost share amount.
From the EQIP target areas, there are several for which I may be able to apply:
- Forest stand improvement
- Forest site preparation
- Tree/shrub establishment
- Upland wildlife habitat management
I’ll research how these areas tie into my Forest Stewardship Plan as I fully complete it, and also determine the potential cost savings which might be obtained through this cost share program (plus balance that against the extra work and overhead of the program to ensure it’s worthwhile for our sized parcel). This gives me an additional incentive to keep forging ahead on fully completing the first version of my Forest Stewardship Plan soon!