The Southern New England Heritage Forest (SNEHF)

Is a 1.49 million-acre unfragmented forest corridor stretching along the Connecticut and Rhode Island border to the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts. Bounded by more heavily urbanized areas, with more than one million nearby residents, the SNEHF has an astonishing 76% forest cover and offers one of the last viable wildlife corridors from southern to northern New England. The SNEHF is a green oasis and the last undeveloped region in the coastal sprawl from Boston to Washington, D.C.

Because the SNEHF is so significant, a conservation partnership was formed to bring additional funding to the region through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

New Funding Opportunity – October 1, 2019

Photo credit G. Leslie Sweetnam

Attention woodland landowners: Are you interested in improving woodland habitat for important bird species and managing your woods for wildlife and people?

The Last Green Valley (TLGV), the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership (MassConn) and the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District (NRICD) are pleased to offer a new opportunity for woodland landowners to obtain forest management plans with bird habitat assessments.

A professional forester will walk your property and coordinate with the Audubon society in your state to produce a high-quality forest management plan with a bird habitat assessment of your woods. The plan will contain recommendations for management measures that align with your goals for the property. The plans will meet federal and state requirements and may be used to apply for property tax reductions at the local level (where applicable).

Grant funds are available to pay for most of the forester’s costs and to completely fund the bird habitat assessments. As a landowner, you will be responsible for choosing a forester from an approved list and for paying a percentage of the total cost of the forest management plan.

This program is ideally suited for landowners who have never had a forest management plan and own more than 10 acres of woodlands.

Program requirements vary by state, so to get started, contact the lead partner for your state who can help you file the correct paperwork.

The deadline for Connecticut and Rhode Island applications is December 31, 2019. We recommend you begin the process early so everything is complete before the deadline.

Massachusetts is accepting applications on a rolling basis so you may apply at any time.

Contacts:

For Connecticut Projects – Bill Reid, 860-774-3300; bill@tlgv.org

               Connecticut Application: Forest Management Plan – EQIP Application Package 10-1-19

For Massachusetts Projects – Christopher Riely, 401-225-6135; christopher@sweetbirchconsulting.com

        Massachusetts Application:  Forest Management/Stewardship Plan MA EQIP Application Package 10-1-19

For Rhode Island Projects – Kate Sayles, 401-934-0840;  ksayles.nricd@gmail.com

                Rhode Island Application: Forest Management Plan – EQIP Application Package 10-1-19

Additional Resources:

List of Towns (MA, CT, RI) in the SNEHF RCPP area

This project is funded in part by a Regional Conservation Partnership Program Grant #68-1106-17-058 from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. NRCS/USDA and the lead project partners are equal opportunity providers, employers, and lenders.

Supporting partners for this project include: MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Providence Water, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Hull Forest Products, Thames River Basin Partnership, New England Forestry Foundation, Eastern CT Conservation District, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, RI Division of Forest Management, RI Woodland Partnership, Harvard Forest, Yale Sustaining Family Forests Institute, Audubon Connecticut, Mass Audubon and Audubon Rhode Island.

Healthy Forests Reserve Easement Program

The 2018/2019 application period for the easement program has closed. During the first application round, thirty landowners with approximately 2,500 forested acres in CT, MA and RI submitted applications. TLGV is working with NRCS and project partners to move forward towards permanent protection of the highest-priority parcels.

Easement Program – this new program will provide technical and financial assistance to forest landowners who wish to conserve their land by granting an easement to NRCS through the Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP). The HFRP is a voluntary conservation easement program for private non-industrial woodland landowners that is new to this region.

NRCS will pay the landowner 75% of the fair market value of the enrolled land in order to promote the recovery of endangered and threatened species, improve plant and animal biodiversity and enhance carbon sequestration. The specific focus of this RCPP is on important bird species and their habitats.

NRCS will pay for transaction costs including a title search, boundary survey, hazardous materials search and appraisal. NRCS will draft a restoration plan for the property that focuses on improving habitat for a specific bird species and will provide 75% of the funds for the first round of any restoration work that is required.

The application deadline for the first round of this competitive funding program is July 20, 2018, but we advise potential applicants to contact their state lead partner as soon as possible because there are a number of preliminary steps that must be completed:

For Connecticut Projects – Bill Reid, 860 774-3300; bill@tlgv.org

For Massachusetts Projects – Ed Hood, 508-347-9144 (leave a voice mail with your contact info); ehood@opacumlt.org

For Rhode Island Projects – Kate Sayles, 401-934-0840;  ksayles.nricd@gmail.com

Here are some important links:

Application Package  (PDF version) – Southern New England Heritage Forest (SNEHF) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP)

Application Package (Word version) – Southern New England Heritage Forest (SNEHF) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP)

Southern New England Heritage Forest Mapper

List of Towns (MA, CT, RI) in the SNEHF RCPP area

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Guide to the SNEHF RCPP Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP)

NRCS Program Application Form CCC- 1200

NRCS Healthy Forests Reserve Program website

Healthy Forests Reserve Program Sample Conservation Easement Deed

This project is funded in part by a Regional Conservation Partnership Program Grant #68-1106-17-058 from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. NRCS/USDA and the lead project partners are equal opportunity providers, employers, and lenders.

Supporting partners for this project include: MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Providence Water, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Hull Forest Products, Thames River Basin Partnership, New England Forestry Foundation, Eastern CT Conservation District, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, RI Division of Forest Management, RI Woodland Partnership, Harvard Forest, Yale Sustaining Family Forests Institute, Audubon Connecticut, Mass Audubon and Audubon Rhode Island.