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Grant applications sought for new Community Forest Program
Media Release
For Immediate Release
March 15, 2012
News Contacts: Cynthia Orlando 503-945-7421 or Jim Cathcart 503-945-7493
A new federal grant program that provides financial assistance to local governments, Tribal governments, and nonprofit entities for establishing community forests is now available.       
Passed under the 2008 Farm Bill, the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (CFP) authorizes the U.S. Forest Service to pay up to 50 percent of the project costs to a maximum of $400,000. Lands eligible for grants under the program must be private forest at least five acres in size, at least 75 percent forested, and suitable to sustain natural forest cover. The lands must not be held in trust by the United States on behalf of any Indian tribe. Lands must also be threatened by conversion to nonforest uses, allow public access, and provide community benefits.
Community benefits as described under the CFP include:
* Provides recreational, educational, experiential learning opportunities
* Protects habitat
* Provides economic opportunities
* Improves forest health
* Conserves water supply and watershed
* Establishes model demonstration forests
* Mitigates climate change
More program basics
Community Forests can be owned by local governments, tribes, and qualified nonprofit entities. Public involvement in the establishment and management of the community forest is required.
All projects must complete a Community Forest Plan prior to closing; a draft of the plan is due at the time of application.  Full fee title acquisition is required - projects consisting of conservation easements are not eligible. 
The program pays up to 50 percent of acquisition costs -- and requires at least a 50 percent  non-federal match. Qualified non-profits and local governments apply through the Oregon Department of Forestry; Indian Tribes apply directly to the U.S. Forest Service.
Oregon framework - suggestions for applicants
Applications should include a letter from the private landowner that indicates the landowner is a voluntary, willing seller supporting the project. In addition, projects that contain one or more of the following are encouraged:
  • A written and approved Forest Stewardship / Oregon Tree Farm System Management Plan – or the commitment to develop one before closing on the acquisition.
  • Third party certification through the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).
  • Property demonstrates effective forest stewardship and sustainable forestry as opposed to being in a degraded condition. 
  • Property is located within an urban-rural interface area threatened with conversion to non-forestry use.
  • Land management supports implementation of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s
    “Conservation Strategy” (see link, below).
  • A strong landowner/public forestry/outdoor education component.
Applications from family forestry related non-profit organizations - with local forestland owner and community involvement, and demonstrated financial and organizational capacity to manage the property - are strongly encouraged. Landowner contribution to the required non-federal match in form of bargain sale is also encouraged.
A preference will be given for properties already demonstrating effective forest stewardship and sustainable forestry as opposed to properties in a degraded condition.
Application deadline
All applicants must send an email to communityforest@fs.fed.usto confirm an application has been submitted to the Oregon Department of Forestry for funding consideration. Hard copy or electronic versions of applications need to be submitted to:
Jim Cathcart
Oregon Department of Forestry
2600 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97310
(503) 945-7493
and received no later than close of business, May 15, 2012.  Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact Jim Cathcart with any questions.
More information:
For the national Request for Applications, go to: http://www.fs.fed.us/spf/coop/library/app_fed_rfa.pdf.
For more information about the Community Forest Program:  http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/privateforests/IncentivesCF.shtml.
For information about the Oregon Conservation Strategy:  http://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/.
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