USDA Funds Available for Forest Restoration Projects


The Connecticut state office of the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that it has preliminary approval for $2,693,500 for initial eligible restoration projects under the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP).

Forest properties that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy in Litchfield, Tolland, Windham, New London, Middlesex, New Haven, and Fairfield counties are eligible to be reimbursed up to 75 percent of the cost of the restoration. Funding for the program was made available through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013.

"While Connecticut was not as hard-hit as our neighbors in New York and New Jersey, communities here continue to struggle to rebuild from the devastating damage caused by Sandy, including our rural and forested areas. I encourage Connecticut landowners to seek these federal funds to help replant and restore our beautiful forests, which are vital to both our environmental and economic well-being," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

"While we've been focusing much of our Sandy restoration efforts on rebuilding the state's shoreline, we can't forget how hard Connecticut's forests were hit by this massive storm as well. Connecticut spent a century virtually clear-cutting almost all of its virgin forest cover. Since then, we've learned a hard lesson about the incredible value that our forests provide, both in terms of economic growth and ecological vitality. The funding . will be a huge help to landowners who are trying to navigate the costly process of restoring their forested land. I encourage landowners to apply for assistance as soon as possible so our state's precious forests can thrive again," said Sen. Chris Murphy.

"Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy had a significant, devastating impact on trees and forests across Connecticut," said Rep. Joe Courtney. "I am proud to join with FSA to announce the release of resources that will bolster the rehabilitation and maintenance of forests that contribute so much to the character and environment of our state. Focusing our attention on wildlife habitats and watersheds reiterates our commitment to protecting our natural habitat for future generations."

"Our FSA offices have interest from 300 landowners seeking to restore 2,270 acres of Connecticut forests. Superstorm Sandy devastated our state, and the EFRP is a great program to help repair some of that damage. It is important that we don't forget about the comprehensive impact across the state and the time and effort that will be required for restoration purposes," FSA State Executive Director Bryan Hurlburt stated.

Nonindustrial private forest landowners that experienced damage are still able to enroll and are encouraged to visit their FSA county offices to apply for EFRP. Enrollment is open until May 31.

Eligible land must have existing tree cover and be suitable for growing trees. Storm damage to forested land, if untreated, must endanger the natural resources on the land and materially affect future use of the land.

DEEP Foresters will review the applications. Work that began no sooner than 60 days before the announcement can be approved. The program will cover up to 75 percent of the cost. Practices include:

. Woody Residue Treatment - Restoration/conservation treatment.
. Tree and Shrub Site Preparation - control of non-native invasive vegetation
. Tree/Shrub Establishment - direct seeding and planting of hardwood or softwood
seedlings with browse protection.

FSA county contact information:

Hartford/Tolland County Office
100 Northfield Drive, 4th Floor
Windsor, CT 06095

1185 New Litchfield Street
Torrington, CT 06790

New Haven/Middlesex
97 Barnes Road
Wallingford, CT 06492

New London
238 West Town Street
Norwich, CT 06360

71 Westcott Road
Danielson, CT 06239