Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Tuesday, June 6

Conservation Reserve Program—Emergency Forestry

Effective Date: June 1, 2006.

Section 107 the 2006 Act amended the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3831), which provides statutory authority for the CRP, to provide for the Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program (EFCRP) to enroll in the CRP private non-industrial forest land that experienced a loss of 35% or more of merchantable timber in the States suffering forestry damage directly related to hurricanes Katrina, Ophelia, Rita, Dennis, and Wilma.

The CRP is the Nation’s largest private lands conservation program. Compared to the broader CRP which targets certain cropland and marginal pastureland, the EFCRP is designed to focus on the restoration of private non-industrial forest land damaged by 2005 hurricanes.
The 2006 Act also authorized an additional factor for EFCRP, mitigation of economic loss.

For purposes of eligibility, this new program is available in counties with a Presidential-or Secretarial-declared primary disaster designation due to hurricanes during the 2005 calendar year. The eligible owners and operators may enroll applicable private nonindustrial forest land in the new EFCRP during calendar year 2006. Private nonindustrial forest land, for purposes of EFCRP, means lands with existing tree cover that is owned by an individual, group, association, corporation, Indian tribe, or other private entity or a person who or entity who receives concurrence from the landowner for practice implementation.

Offers for enrollment may be made at local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices through November 30, 2006. The 2006 Act requires that eligibility for enrollment is limited to owners and operators of private non-industrial forest land that have experienced a loss of 35% or more of merchantable timber in a county affected by hurricanes during the 2005 calendar year. All offers will be verified for eligibility. Merchantable timber is defined in the 2006 Act and in the regulations as timber on private non-industrial forest land on which the average tree has a trunk diameter of at least six inches measured at least four-and-one-half feet above the ground. Under EFCRP, contracts will be for 10 years and will become effective the first day of the month following the month of contract approval by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC).

A conservation plan for forestry is a required component of an EFCRP contract and will include provisions for soil erosion, water quality, and wildlife habitat as well as provisions for site preparation and planting, to the maximum practicable, of native species or, if native species are not practicable, with similar species as existed prior to hurricane damage. EFCRP participants will agree to restore trees to the minimum silvicultural level established by the United States Forest Service for the purposes of the practice. As with all CRP contracts, no commercial use of the crop (timber) will be permitted during the contract period, but management activities customary with normal forestry practice such as pruning, thinning, and stand improvement will be permitted as specified in the conservation plan for the property. However, forestry maintenance such as pruning, thinning, and timber stand improvement, in accordance with a conservation plan and in exchange for an applicable reduction in the annual rental payment, as determined by the Deputy Administrator, is permitted. In determining which offers to accept, CCC will collect data on soil erosion, water quality, wildlife habitat, and mitigation of economic loss and, using a generally-applicable benefits index, CCC will determine the acceptability of all offers.

Click here to read all of the Ruling.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kiley Barnes, Conservation and Environmental Programs Division, USDA/FSA/CEPD/STOP 0513, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250–0513, Telephone (202) 720–8772; e-mail: Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact the USDA Target Center at (202) 720–2600 (voice and TDD).


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