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

Spring Canopy in the Southern New England Heritage Forest

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

The Last Green Valley, Inc. and the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership/Opacum Land Trust are pleased to announce a new application round for Massachusetts landowners in the Southern New England Heritage Forest (SNEHF) to conserve their woodlands.

This program is part of an unprecedented three-state effort made possible through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

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 here.

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 as soon as possible. There are preliminary steps that must be completed, and Mr. Riely is available to provide technical assistance.

Preserving the Southern New England Heritage Forest is critical for important bird species and other wildlife. With 1.49 million-acres of unfragmented forest corridor stretching along the Connecticut and Rhode Island border to the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts, the Southern New England Heritage Forest is still an astonishing 76 percent forest cover and one of the last viable wildlife corridors from northern New England to the coast in southern New England.

Project partners in Massachusetts include the MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, New England Forestry Foundation, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Harvard Forest and Mass Audubon.

Additional partners include the Northern RI Conservation District, Providence Water, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Hull Forest Products, Thames River Basin Partnership, Eastern CT Conservation District, RI Division of Forest Management, RI Woodland Partnership, Yale Sustaining Family Forests Institute, Audubon Connecticut and Audubon Rhode Island.

The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor is the last stretch of dark night sky in the coastal sprawl between Boston and Washington, D.C. and was designated by the U.S. Congress in 1994. The Last Green Valley, Inc. works for you in the National Heritage Corridor. Together we can care for it, enjoy it and pass it on!



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