The Southeast Forest Landowner Outreach Initiative (SEFLO) is a partnership between non-profit organizations, community leaders, non-profits, and agencies to increase landowner access to federal funds assisting landowners in woodland management.
Does money grow on trees?
The South has some of the most productive woodlands in the whole country, but many wooded areas on African American farms are not managed to their potential. A managed forest can produce greater income for landowners and be an asset for current and future generations.
Historically, minority landowners have missed out on some funding opportunities from USDA, and there are opportunities now for landowners to tap into these resources. (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial)
One resource, EQIP (the Environmental Quality Incentive Program) can help with tree planting, thinning of trees for better growth, fire lanes for access to the property, and other things. (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/eqip) EQIP can either pay for a portion of the work (up to 90% in some cases) or sometimes landowners can receive the payment for work they do themselves.
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) [put links here] are another opportunity for landowners who have eligible land. Only certain lands are eligible.
The SEFLO group is working with community leaders in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and West Tennessee to connect landowners with information and resources. This Forest Ambassador program empowers local leaders to share information and assistance with landowners in their home counties.
Natural Resource Bus Tour – LRLEAN
Over the past year over 200 landowners have attended our workshops and over $200,000 in financial assistance was secured through EQIP alone.
Experts on Your Side
We also have a team of experts to help you learn about forest management and access the financial assistance.
These experts include foresters, and retired NRCS staff who have decades of experience helping people work through the system.
If you and other landowners want to learn more, we may be able to arrange a presentation in your community. If you find 5 interested landowners, contact us! If you want family members who don’t live on the land to learn about these opportunities we can also do information sessions using phone conference calls, or internet presentations.
How to Apply
To apply for EQIP you need to visit the Natural Resources Cnservation Service ( NRCS) office and Farm Service Agency ( FSA) office. Usually you should start by getting a forest management plan or conservation activity plan to identify your most important “resource concerns”.
Landowner Forest Management Plan
The EQIP application can be pretty quick and easy if you make sure to call ahead and arrange a time to meet and have all the paperwork in hand. If your property is owned by several people you may need to clear that title, or get power of attorney to have the right to apply for EQIP. For help with heir property you can contact [BFLT link, LAF link, etc.]
Here is an overview of the EQIP application process and what you need:
Landowner financial assistance sign up process
A map of EQIP in Alabama can be found here.