Forest Management Programs
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Persons who are engaged in forestry, livestock or agricultural production on eligible land may participate in the EQIP program. EQIP has to address natural resource concerns and not production practices.
EQIP activities are carried out according to an environmental quality incentives program plan of operations developed in conjunction with the landowner. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions. The local conservation district approves the plan. Applications for cost-share are ranked on a state wide basis once a year usually in the spring.
EQIP cost-share is 50% and 75 percent of the costs of certain conservation practices. However, limited resource producers and beginning farmers and ranchers may be eligible for cost-shares up to 90 percent. Farmers and ranchers may elect to use a certified third-party provider for technical assistance. An individual or entity may not receive, directly or indirectly, cost-share or incentive payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $450,000 for all EQIP contracts entered during the term of the Farm Bill.
Under the program, the following forestry related conservation practices are eligible for cost share reimbursement: planting site preparation, hardwood or pine tree planting (areas planted to pine must have at least 15% of the total area planted in hardwoods), prescribed burning, forest stand improvement to remove undesirable species, planting wildlife food plots, and erosion control measures such as water bars, wing ditches, all weather stream crossings, etc. Applications are ranked according to what practices are applied for.
Owners of eligible lands may apply at their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office.
Continuous Sign-Up Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
The Riparian Forest Buffer Program (CP22) may be the best cost-share program for landowners. The program provides cost-share for planting hardwood trees or shrubs in 180 feet buffer strips along streams or ponds. Whole fields adjacent to the steams can also be planted in hardwood or pine species if it is has evidence of sedimentation. Eligible lands must have been planted to a commodity crop four years out of the six most recent years (1996-2001) or considered marginal pastureland and never cropped. (Marginal pastureland is considered any land that does not have at least 50 square feet of basal area).
CP22 offers annual rental payments for 10-15 years and 50 percent of the cost to implement an approved conservation plan. In addition, there is a $100/acre “Signing Bonus” ($10/acre/year), a 40 percent practice installation bonus, and a maintenance payment. In essence, landowners receive 90% cost-share plus annual payments up to 15 years.
Any expense incurred by landowners implementing practices under CP22 may be applied to the Wetland and Riparian Zones Tax Credit Program. A landowner may be eligible to take advantage of these credits to reduce their state income tax liability. These riparian zone tax credits must be applied for before a project begins. The Arkansas Natural Resources Conservation Commission administers the riparian tax credit program. Their number is 501-682-1608.
The Wetland Restoration Program (CP23) purpose is to restore the functions and values of wetland ecosystems that have been devoted to agriculture use. CP23 will provide 50% cost-share for planting bottomland hardwood species on suitable lands with a commodity cropping history four years out of the six most recent years (1996-2001). This program can plant whole fields. Annual payments are also available to the landowner for up to 15 years. A one-time incentive payment equal to 25 % of the cost of restoring the hydrology of the site is available to encourage the restoration of cropped wetlands.
The Bottomland Timber Establishment on Wetlands Program (CP31) purpose is to restore and enhance the beneficial functions of wetlands. To be eligible for cost-share the land must be within the recognized 100-year flood plain for a river or stream with permanent flow and must contain a minimum of 51% hydric soils.
CP31 will provide 50% cost-share for planting bottomland hardwood species on suitable lands with a commodity cropping history four years out of the six most recent years (1996-2001). This program can plant whole fields. Annual payments are also available to the landowner for up to 15 years.
Owners of eligible lands can apply at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices anytime during the year for any of the continuous CRP programs.
General Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
Under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will cost-share with landowners 50 percent of the cost to implement an approved conservation plan (planting approved hardwood or pine species) and pay landowners annual rental payments for 10-15 years to maintain those practices. To be eligible, landowners must have owned their land for at least one year. Eligible lands must have been planted to an agricultural commodity crop four years out of the six most recent years.
CP3-The purpose of this practice is to establish a stand of trees in a timber planting that will enhance environmental benefits. Pine seedlings are planted under this practice at approved spacings. Landowners are eligible for a 10 year contract of annual rental payments in this practice.
CP3A-The purpose of this practice is to establish a stand of predominantly hardwood trees in a timber planting that will enhance environmental benefits. Apply this practice to eligible cropland suitable for growing hardwood trees. Approved hardwood seedlings are planted under this practice at approved spacings. Predominate hardwoods may include the planting of some softwood trees. Landowners are eligible for a 15 year contract of annual rental payments in this practice.
Owners of eligible lands apply for enrollment at their local FSA office by declaring their intent to participate during the specified enrollment periods.
Southern Pine Beetle Program
The Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program (SPBPP) is designed to encourage landowners to thin dense pine stands and to offer incentives to loggers for thinning small tracts of timber usually not economically feasible to harvest. Maintaining stand vigor by thinning is one of the most practical methods of reducing the threat of pine bark beetle attacks. This is especially effective when SPB numbers are low, which they are in Arkansas at this time.
To be approved for a thinning incentive:
- Parcel size must be at least 10 acres.
- Parcel must have a pine basal area (BA) of 120 or higher.
- Thinning target is a BA of 60-90 healthy, undamaged pine.
- Parcel must be non-industrial private forest land.
- Loggers are eligible for an incentive for projects on 40 acres or less.
- A landowner may only receive a maximum of $10,000 in program incentives per year.
A Forestry Division County Forester must inspect the site and prepare an SPBPP Project Plan prior to any logging operations. After the inspection, a forester will forward an application to Forestry Division Headquarters for approval.
After the project has been completed, the forester must re-inspect the site to ensure the job adequately met the requirements as listed in the project plan. As part of the approval process, all mill tickets will be reviewed and the tons of wood removed will be reported.
Visit the Forest Health webpage for more details about this year's program and SPB.
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and encourages agricultural and forestry producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional ones on their operations. CSP is a voluntary conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. CSP provides opportunities to both recognize excellent stewards and deliver valuable new conservation. For more information about CSP visit the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service CSP page.
Partners for Wildlife (PFW)
The restoration of degraded wetlands, native grasslands, streams, riparian areas and other habitats to conditions as close to natural are emphasized. The program’s philosophy is to work proactively with private landowners for the mutual benefit of declining species and the interests of the landowners involved.
Landowners sign an agreement to retain the restoration projects for the life of the agreement (at least 10 years) and otherwise retain full control of their land.
Approved bottomland hardwood or shrub species can be planted in this program. Up to 100% cost-sharing is available.
Owners of eligible lands apply at the US Fish & Wildlife Service office in Conway , AR by calling 501-513-4470.
Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)
This is one of the biggest programs for establishing bottomland hardwood species in Arkansas . The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) provides landowners cost-share funds and/or land payments to restore wetlands. Wetlands converted to cropland prior to December 23, 1985 are eligible for the WRP Program. Adjacent land deemed necessary to protect the restored wetlands can also be included.
Qualifying landowners may receive up to $700 per acre for the agricultural value of the land and will receive up to 100 percent cost-share for essential conservation practices necessary to restore the areas to wetlands in the permanent easement program. Under the 30-year easement the landowner may receive 75 percent cost-share on restoration. Under the 10-year restoration agreement there is no easement payment, but landowners receive 75 percent cost-share for restoration. In Arkansas permanent easements are usually obtained by landowners enrolled in this program.
Owners of eligible lands apply for enrollment at their local NRCS office by declaring their intent to participate during the specified enrollment periods. The NRCS and the USFWS, assisted by the AGFC, determine the eligibility of the acres offered.