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Grants for C.O. woodland owners can cut fire risk


(April 27, 2015) — The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces up to $100,000 in funding available for woodland owners in Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties to improve the health of their woods and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Interested landowners should submit applications to the USDA Redmond Service Center by May 22 to be considered for financial assistance.

The funding is available only to private, non-industrial woodland owners and will be primarily used to perform pre-commercial thinning on private forestlands.

This is a popular conservation practice that involves removing smaller, unhealthy trees within dense and overcrowded woods. The funding will also support other related conservation practices, such as woody residue treatment and forest pruning.

“By thinning timber stands in dense forests, we remove the excess vegetation that provides fuel for wildfires to spread higher into the canopy—where wildfire causes the most damage,” said Tom Bennett, NRCS resource conservationist. “Fires in overstocked stands are hotter, harder to fight, and are more likely to kill all the trees.”

“Thinning also promotes more organic matter in the soil and leads to stronger, healthier trees,” Bennett said. “The remaining trees are less prone to disease and bugs, and are more drought tolerant.”

Eligible landowners may receive payments as high as $400 per acre to treat a heavy timber stand, depending on the types of practices applied and the forest density.

The funding is provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a voluntary conservation program authorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill. Read more about EQIP eligibility and application requirements on the NRCS Oregon EQIP webpage.

NRCS will rank applications and prioritize them based on significant impacts to forest resources and wildfire threats to local communities. Priority areas include high-density forests around the cities of Bend, Sisters and LaPine in Deschutes County, and residential developments in Crook and Jefferson counties.

“We are focusing on areas where there is a higher need to reduce catastrophic wildfire risk to protect life, property, and public infrastructure,” Bennett said.

NRCS is partnering with the Oregon Department of Forestry to treat at-risk forest lands in the tri-county area. The two agencies estimate there are approximately 2,500 acres of overstocked, privately-owned forests in these high-priority areas that could benefit from this project. NRCS aims to treat 60 percent of those acres between 2013 and 2017.

For more information about this and other NRCS programs and funding in Deschutes, Crook or Jefferson counties, contact the USDA Redmond Service Center at 541-923-4358 or email The Redmond Service Center is located at 625 SE Salmon Avenue, Suite 4, in Redmond, Oregon.

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