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).

The Last Green Valley (TLGV), the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership (MassConn) and the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District (NRICD) are pleased to offer these funding opportunities for woodland landowners.

a. Healthy Forests Reserve Easement Program

New Round of Funding Available for Massachusetts Landowners to Conserve Woodlands in the Southern New England Heritage Forest

March 30, 2021 - A new application round for Massachusetts landowners in the Southern New England Heritage Forest (SNEHF) to conserve their woodlands has just been announced.

Funding and technical assistance will be provided to forest landowners who wish to conserve their land by granting an easement to NRCS through the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP). The HFRP is a voluntary conservation easement program for private woodland owners. The deadline for this round of applications is May 14, 2021. Application materials, including a list of the Massachusetts towns included in this grant round, can be found below.

NRCS will appraise the property before and after the easement, and will pay the landowner 75% of the difference in value with the easement in place. The easement will 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 also pay for all transaction costs, including a title search, boundary survey, environmental due diligence and appraisal. NRCS will draft a restoration plan for the property that focuses on improving habitat for a specific bird species and will reimburse the landowner for the first round of any restoration work that is required.

While the application deadline for this round is May 14, 2021, potential applicants should contact Christopher Riely, at 401-225-6135 or christopher@sweetbirchconsulting.com as soon as possible. There are preliminary steps that must be completed, and Mr. Riely is available to provide technical assistance.

Here are some important links for the Healthy Forests Reserve Program:

2021 Massachusetts HFRP Application Package (PDF version)

2021 Massachusetts HFRP Application Package (Word version)

NRCS Program Application Form CPA1200

         List of Massachusetts Towns in the SNEHF

Southern New England Heritage Forest Mapper

NRCS Guide to the Healthy Forests Reserve Easement Program rev 3-23-21

NRCS HFRP website

NRCS HFRP Sample Conservation Easement Deed

NRCS HFRP Option to Purchase

NRCS HFRP Subordination Agreement

b. Funding for Forest Management Plans with Bird Habitat Assessments

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

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 next deadline for Connecticut and Rhode Island applications will be December 31, 2021. 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 October 2020

For Massachusetts Projects – Christopher Riely, 401-225-6135; christopher@sweetbirchconsulting.com
Massachusetts Application:  Forest Management/Stewardship Plan - MA EQIP Application Package October 2020

For Rhode Island Projects – Kate Sayles, 401-934-0840;  ksayles.nricd@gmail.com
Rhode Island Application: Forest Management Plan - EQIP Application Package October 2020

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

c. Funding for Forestry Practices

Do you already have a forest management plan with a bird habitat assessment? Are you looking to improve your woodland habitat for important bird species, and manage your woods for wildlife and people?

If so, funding is available from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to help you take care of your woods. Your land must be within SNEHF communities and you must have a current forest management plan with a bird habitat assessment, and be ready for implementation. Additional eligibility for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) will also apply.

To find out more, contact the lead project partner for your state:

For Connecticut Projects – Bill Reid, 860-774-3300; bill@tlgv.org
Connecticut Application: Forest Management Plan - EQIP Application Package October 2020

For Massachusetts Projects – Christopher Riely, 401-225-6135; christopher@sweetbirchconsulting.com
Massachusetts Application:  Forest Management/Stewardship Plan - MA EQIP Application Package October 2020

For Rhode Island Projects – Kate Sayles, 401-934-0840;  ksayles.nricd@gmail.com
Rhode Island Application: Forest Management Plan - EQIP Application Package October 2020

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

You can also contact your local NRCS Service Center:

    • Danielson (860) 779-0557
    • Hamden (203) 287-8038
    • Norwich (860) 887-9941
    • Torrington (860) 626-8852
    • Windsor (860) 688-7725

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

 

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.

 

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