Federal help available for woods damaged in summer storms

Several programs provide resources to forestowners

(Map graphic developed by WI DNR)

RHINELANDER, Wis. -- Many forestowners are looking for help with reforestation projects, especially as snow begins melting leaving behind wreckage in the areas affected by severe forest damage from last summer’s tornadoes and other heavy wind storms in northern Wisconsin.

There is help available from the federal government, but the potential sources are varied as are the deadlines. The nature of what type of projects may have assistance available varies based on the program.

Here’s a primer, but for more information, please check with the regional U.S. Department of Agriculture offices in your area.

EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) may provide funding and assistance with reforestation funding for slash treatment and replanting of forests destroyed by storms. Particularly for red pine forests, the DNR had recommended not replanting for at least one year to limit the risk of disease affecting seedlings.

The deadline for EQIP funding for replanting this summer was February, but beginning to plan for an application this fall is recommended for landowners seeking assistance for 2021, according to Michael Stinebrink, a National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) coordinator in the Rhinelander center. (EQIP funding is part of the NRCS.) The EQIP coordinator for your area can be found at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/contact/local/

EQIP funding can be extensive if the scale of the project warrants that. Current replanting funding averages about $.64 per tree (including cost of seedling and planting labor).

CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program) may provide assistance to non-industrial forest owners in the form of annual payments for improved conservation measures in areas such as riparian area improvement or timber stand species improvement. According to the Wisconsin CSP fact sheet, the average annual payment from this program has been $17 per year.

The NRCS describes ideal CSP participants as owners who have a current forest management plan, follow best management practices, and maintain forest trails. Land owners or managers may find their local representative for this program at: www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/wi/contact/local/

EFRP (Emergency Forest Restoration Program) Despite its name, this program is not available to Wisconsin forest owners affected by last summer’s severe storms. It has been referenced by some national forest associations, but Department of Agriculture officials say that the EQIP and CSP are more appropriate in Wisconsin because of the heavy prevalence of forest management plans throughout Wisconsin forests. EFRP is run by the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, a different branch than the National Conservation Resource Service.

State nurseries suspend seedling sales

Wisconsin Gov. Evers’ “Safer at Home” order has caused the DNR to suspend tree seedling sales.

The DNR continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change.

“Seedling orders that cannot be fulfilled will be canceled and refunded. The WI DNR Reforestation Program will contact customers. Options to reinstate seedling orders for Spring 2021 are available,” according to the DNR announcement.

Joe Vande Hey, the DNR’s reforestation team leader, said fulfillment of existing orders would also be limited. Buyers may be able to reinstate orders for Spring 2021.

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