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

Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced that sign-up for the $404 million Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program (EFCRP) will start June 19. The program helps landowners and operators restore and replant forestland damaged by the hurricanes that occurred in 2005.

"Emergency Forestry CRP is one of many USDA programs helping hurricane victims rebuild their farming operations and their communities," said Johanns. "By planting trees, landowners and operators can improve the ability of at-risk land to withstand future storms."

Trees planted through EFCRP help reduce flood effects, protect water sources, decrease soil erosion and improve wildlife habitat. On Dec. 30, 2005, President Bush signed the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act, which provides $900 million to address natural disaster damages from 2005 hurricanes and authorizes EFCRP. Of these funds, approximately $400 million is designated for the Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program, $200 million for the Emergency Conservation Program and $300 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.
To be eligible for EFCRP, a producer must have experienced at least a 35% loss to merchantable timber on private non-industrial forestland. The loss must relate directly with one of the calendar year 2005 hurricanes.

Tree loss must have occurred in one of the 261 counties receiving presidential or secretarial primary disaster designations caused by 2005 Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Ophelia, Rita or Wilma. Loss assistance is not available in contiguous counties.

Local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices will accept land enrollment offers from producers starting June 19 through Oct. 20, 2006. FSA will rank land offers based on potential to prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, restore wildlife habitat, and mitigate economic loss caused by hurricanes. Those rankings will be based on evaluations performed by foresters. The sign-up is divided into three selection periods for top-ranked offers: June 19 through July 28; July 31 through Sept. 1; and Sept. 5 through Oct. 20. Eligible land offers not selected during the first or second period will roll-over to subsequent selection period(s). All EFCRP contracts must have approval by Dec. 31, 2006.

After offer evaluation and acceptance, a forester will work with the landowner to develop a conservation plan. Enrolled land will remain under contract for 10 years. EFCRP participants will receive 50 percent cost-share assistance and a lump sum rental payment or 10 annual rental payments. EFCRP participants may not harvest standing timber from enrolled land during the term of the contract period, except as may be permitted by FSA as part of the normal maintenance of forest land.

Acreage enrolled in EFCRP does not count toward the per-county number of acres eligible for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and CRP's maximum acreage enrollment authority.

A Map Showing The Counties Declared Presidential And Secretarial Disaster Areas For 2005 Hurricanes


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