The U.S. Department of Agriculture (Division of Forest Service – State and Private Forestry – and Cooperative Forestry) requests applications for the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program. This is a competitive grant program whereby local governments, qualified nonprofit organizations, and Indian tribes are eligible to apply for grants to establish community forests through fee simple acquisition of private forest land from a willing seller.
The purpose of the program is to establish community forests by protecting forest land from conversion to non-forest uses and provide community benefits such as sustainable forest management, environmental benefits including clean air, water and wildlife habitat; benefits from forest-based educational programs; benefits from serving as models of effective forest stewardship; and recreational benefits secured with public access.
Eligible applicants include a local governmental entity, Indian Tribe (including Alaska Native Corporations) or a qualified nonprofit organization that is qualified to acquire and manage land (see § 230.2 of the final rule at https://www.fs.fed.us/managing-land/private-land/community-forest/program ). Individuals are not eligible to receive funds through this program.
Eligible lands for grants funded under this program are private forest that is: at least five acres in size, suitable to sustain natural vegetation and at least 75 percent forested. Lands must also be threatened by conversion to non-forest uses, must not be held in trust by the United States on behalf of any Indian Tribe, must not be Tribal allotment lands, must be offered for sale by a willing seller, and if acquired by an eligible entity, must provide defined community benefits under CFP and allow public access.
Interested local government and nonprofit applicants must submit applications to the State Forester. Tribal applicants must submit applications to the appropriate Tribal government officials. All applications, either hardcopy or electronic, must be received by State Foresters or Tribal governments by Jan. 6, 2020. State Foresters or Tribal government officials must forward applications to the appropriate Forest Service Regional office or International Institute of Tropical Forestry by Feb. 6, 2020.
For more information on prospective projects in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, call (787) 764-7257 (temporary phone number) or via email at [email protected].