Funds available for woodland improvements
Kansas landowners wishing to implement conservation practices by improving tree stands may be eligible for federal funding assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
The program provides funds to help landowners manage woodlands, renovate windbreaks, protect against stream bank erosion or implement other conservation practices on their land, said Bob Atchison, rural forestry program coordinator with the Kansas Forest Service.
"Landowners who are interested should start the application process early by contacting their local forester," Atchison said.
A forester then visits the landowner's property to identify natural resource concerns, such as gaps or dead trees in windbreaks and shelterbelts. If the property has sufficient resource concerns making it eligible for EQIP funds, the forester creates a conservation plan and submits it to the Natural Resource Conservation Service, which ranks applications based on priority. Atchison said most Kansas applicants receive EQIP funding.
Common resource concerns foresters are watching for include a shortage of trees next to stream banks, leading to bank erosion that contributes to the sedimentation of federal water reservoirs. "We want trees planted along the banks to help hold the dirt in place," Atchison said.
Foresters also examine the species present in woodland areas. Most woodlands in Kansas are not managed, leading to an abundance of trees like honey locust and Osage orange, which are less beneficial than trees such as black walnut or bur oak.
While the official deadline for applying for EQIP is Nov. 16, Atchison encouraged landowners to apply early and begin talking with their foresters about conservation practices now. Forester contact information is available online at www.kansasforests.org or by calling the Kansas Forest Service state office at 785-532-3310.
For more information about EQIP, contact the NRCS office in your local USDA Service Center (http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app).