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).

Important Funding Opportunity Available for Forestland or Woodland Owners

Are you a forestland owner looking to improve your woodland habitat for important bird species, and manage your woods for wildlife and people? Funding is available now.

Connecticut NRCS, in partnership with The Last Green Valley (TLGV), the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership (MassConn) and the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District (NRICD) has announced a sign-up period from now until April 17, 2020 for woodland landowners who want to improve bird habitat and forest health on their property through implementation of forestry practices.  Eligibility requirements include the land be within the priority area, that the applicant currently have a forest management plan with a bird habitat assessment, and be ready for implementation.

Applications due by April 17, 2020.

Additional eligibility for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) will also apply.

Obtaining a management plan and an assessment requires having a professional forester walk your property and coordinate with the Audubon Society to produce a high-quality forest management plan that includes bird habitat. The plan will contain recommendations for management measures that align with your goals for the property and will meet federal and state requirements and may be used to apply for property tax reductions at the local level (where applicable). Interested landowners who don’t yet have such a plan may also be eligible for funding directly through the partnership.  More information is available on forest management plans below.

The program is part of the $6.1 million Southern New England Heritage Forest conservation effort, an unprecedented three-state collaboration made possible through the USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS funding is being matched. The Last Green Valley has been funding these combination plans for several years, so the goal is to open an implementation program so people who have secured a plan may now get the funding they need to begin.

Applications due by April 17, 2020.

To find out more, 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).

 Funding for Forest Management Plans with Bird Habitat Assessments

Photo credit G. Leslie Sweetnam

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 was December 31, 2019. We will announce a new round of funding in the fall of 2020. At that time, 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.

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