Community Forest Grant Program, Deadline May 15

The Community Forest Program (CFP) protects forests that are important for people and the places they call home. Community forests provide many benefits such as places to recreate and enjoy nature; they protect habitat, water quality and other environmental benefits, and they can provide economic benefits through timber resources. Community Forests have also long been sites for environmental and cultural education.

Request For Applications Issued
The Forest Service published a call for applications for the Community Forest and Open Space Program in the Federal Register on February 15, 2012. Applications are due to the State Forester or the appropriate Tribal official by May 15, 2012 and June 14, 2012 for State Forester or equivalent official of the Indian tribe submitting the applications to the Forest Service.

Total CFP funding anticipated for awards is $3.15 million, and individual grant applications may not exceed $400,000.

What is the Community Forest Program?

The Community Forest Program is a grant program that authorizes the Forest Service to provide financial assistance to local governments, Tribal governments, and qualified nonprofit entities to establish community forests that provide continuing and accessible community benefits.

The Community Forest Program was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill (Section 8003 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-234)), which amends the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978.

Program basics:

  • Full fee title acquisition is required. Conservation easements are not eligible.
  • Community Forests can be owned by local governments, Tribal Governments, and qualified nonprofit entities.
  • The program pays up to 50% of the project costs and requires a 50% non-federal match
  • Public access is required for CFP projects
  • The community is involved in the establishment of the community forest and long-term management decisions.

Applications for local government and nonprofit entities are required to go to the State Forester, while Tribal applications go to the equivalent Tribal Governments official.

Eligible Entities:

  • Local governments- Any municipal government, county government, or other local government with jurisdiction over local land use decisions.
  • Indian Tribes- Federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Native Corporations.
  • Qualified nonprofit organizations- Consistent with Section 170(h)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and operates in accordance with one or more of the conservation purposes.

Eligible Land:

  • Private forest lands that are threatened by conversion to nonforest uses, are not lands held in trust by the United States, and can provide defined community benefits and allow public access
  • Forest lands – Lands that are at least five acres in size, suitable to sustain natural vegetation, and at least 75 percent forested. Forests are determined both by the presence of trees and the absence of nonforest uses.

Applicants will notify the Forest Service when submitting an application to the State Forester or equivalent officials of the Indian tribe.
State Foresters and equivalent official of the Indian tribe will forward all applications to the Forest Service, and, as time and resources allow will:

  1. Provide a review of each application to help the Forest Service determine that the applicant is an eligible entity, that the land is eligible, and whether the project contributes to a landscape conservation initiative.
  2. Confirm that the proposed project has not been submitted for funding consideration under the Forest Legacy Program
  3. Describe what technical assistance they may render in support of implementing the proposed community forest project and an estimate of needed financial assistance.

Project Evaluation Criteria

  1. Type and extent of community benefits provided.
  2. Extent and nature of community engagement in the establishment and long-term management.
  3. Amount of cost share leveraged.
  4. Extent to which the community forest contributes to a landscape conservation initiative.
  5. Extent of due diligence completed on the project.
  6. Likelihood that, unprotected, the property would be converted to nonforest uses.
  7. Costs to the Federal government.

Project Requirements

  1. Complete an appraisal following the Federal appraisal standards (aka Yellowbook).
  2. Prior to closing, notify the landowner in writing of the appraised value and that the sale is voluntary.
  3. Ensure that title is not subject to encumbrances that would be contrary to program purposes.
  4. Purchase all surface and subsurface mineral rights, whenever possible or, determine that the likelihood of extraction is so remote as to be negligible.
  5. Record a Notice of Grant Requirement.
  6. Complete the final community forest plan within 120 days.
  7. Provide appropriate public access.
  8. Submit every 5 years a self-certifying statement that the property has not been sold or converted.
  9. Be subject to a spot check conducted to verify that Community Forest has not been sold or converted.
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Community Forest Grant Program, Deadline May 15

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