The goal of the Community Forest Program is to establish community forests; this is achieved by acquiring land which protects it from conversion to non-forest uses. The Community Forest Program is a federal program that assists landowners in establishing community forests, and sustainably managing them for public benefit including recreation, income, wildlife habitat, stewardship demonstrations sites, and environmental education.
Qualifications & specifications
- Community Forests can be owned by local governments, Tribal governments and qualified nonprofit entities
- The program pays up to 50 percent of the project costs and requires a 50% non-federal match. The match can include cash, in-kind services or donations from a non-Federal source. Additional requirements and information are found in §230.6 of the Community Forest Open Space Conservation Program final rule
- Public access is required for Community Forests
- The community must be involved in the establishment of the community forest and long-term management decisions
- Lands eligible for grants funded under the program must be private forest at least five acres in size and at least 75 percent forested, or suitable for sustaining forest cover
- Individual grant applications may not exceed $400,000
- Full fee title acquisition is required; conservation easements are not eligible
How to apply?
Oregon Community Forests should have a strong landowner/public forestry/outdoor education component that expands and develops additional capacity to forestry education efforts within Oregon. Oregon prefers projects that exhibit the following:
- The Community Forest Plan’s long-term management for forestry purposes is set forth through a written and approved Forest Stewardship/Oregon Tree Farm System forest management plan
- The applicant is a family forestry-related nonprofit organization with local forestland owner and community engagement in their governance, and has demonstrated financial and organizational capacity to actively manage forestland
- The proposed property is certified, or will become certified, by the American Tree Farm System, Forest Stewardship Council, and/or Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- The eligible property curretnly demonstrates effective forest stewardship and sustainable forestry as opposed to being in a degraded condition needing forest restoration and rehabilitation
- The project supports implementation of the Oregon Conservation Strategy
- The project is located within an urban-rural interface area and is threatened with conversion to a non-forestry use
Non-industrial private landowners who are the subject of the Community Forest Program application are free to pursue additional funding for the development of a Forest Stewardship Plan. The following conditions apply:
- The private forestland owner wants to willingly participate in the Community Forest Program and commits to the Forest Stewardship Plan/Oregon Tree Farm plan (or a modification thereof that might remove public access and other provisions sought by the Community should the project not get Community Forest Program funding)
- There is clear understanding between the Community and private landowner regarding who bears the cost-share non-federal match for the completed plan depending on the outcome of any award for the Community Forest Program
- Only NEW plans are eligible for cost-share assistance; financial assistance is not available to update a current Forest Stewardship/Oregon Tree Farm Plans
- Additional information and application instructions for the Forest Stewardship Program
The Community Forestry Program is made possible with funding and other program support provided by the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific NW Region, State & Private Cooperative Forestry.