Deadline to restore forestland near

Published 1:10 am Monday, June 12, 2006

By Staff
Staff reports
Sign-up for the $404 million Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program will begin June 19.
The program helps landowners and operators restore and replant forestland damaged by the hurricanes that occurred in 2005.
These trees will help reduce flood effects, protect water sources, decrease soil erosion and improve wildlife habitat. Eligible producers may sign up at their local U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency office.
To be eligible for EFCRP, a producer must have experienced at least 35 percent loss to merchantable timber on private non-industrial forestland. The loss must relate directly with one of the calendar year 2005 hurricanes.
Tree loss must have occurred in one of the 261 counties receiving presidential or secretarial primary disaster designations caused by 2005 hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Ophelia, Rita or Wilma.
Local FSA offices will accept land enrollment offers from producers beginning June 19 through Oct. 20. FSA will rank land offers based on potential to prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, restore wildlife habitat and mitigate economic loss caused by hurricanes.
Those rankings will be based on evaluations performed by foresters. The sign-up is divided into three selection periods for top-ranked offers: June 19-July 28; July 31-Sept. 1; Sept. 5-Oct. 20.
Eligible land offers not selected during the first or second period will roll over to subsequent selection periods.
All EFCRP contracts must have approval by Dec. 31.
After offer evaluation and acceptance, a forester will work with the landowners to develop a conservation plan.
Enrolled land will remain under contract for 10 years. EFCRP participants will receive 50 percent cost-share assistance and a lump sum rental payment of 10 annual rental payments.
EFCRP participants may not harvest standing timber from enrolled land during the term of the contract period, except as may be permitted by FSA as part of the normal maintenance of forestland.
Acreage enrolled in EFCRP does not count toward the per-county number of acres eligible for the Conservation Reserve Program and CRP's maximum acreage enrollment authority.

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