Updates & Blog

Policy At-a-Glance: June – July 2023

Tim Foley
Policy Director
Southern Group of State Foresters
Trio of photos: Prescribed burn in pines, US Capitol and a closeup of pine tree needles

Appropriations Update

Policy Director says: “The House and Senate have both released their proposed funding bills for the Interior and Environment title, which includes the USDA Forest Service. In the House, the news was a mixed bag for State Forester priority programs, with some increases, some decreases and some flat funding. In the Senate, we saw mostly flat funding from FY23. With the House and Senate far apart on how they are crafting their bills, the writing is on the wall for a Continuing Resolution for an undetermined amount of time starting October 1.”

A view of the Capitol Hill Rotunda at dusk

State Forester Priority Appropriations Summary

ProgramFY23 EnactedFY24 NASF Request LevelFY24 House MarkFY24 Senate Mark
State and Private Forestry$272.67**N/ATBD262.306***
Forest Stewardship$12.50$22.00$12.00$12.50
Urban & Community Forestry$40.00$42.00$40.00$40.00
Forest Health, Cooperative Lands$33.00$39.43$30.00$33.00
Forest Legacy Program$77.94**$128.00**$93.28**$95.24**
Landscape Scale Restoration$17.00$20.00$16.00$17.00
State Fire Capacity Grants*$76.00$79.00$79.00$76.00
Volunteer Fire Capacity Grants*$21.00$22.00$22.00$21.00
Research and Development$91.70N/ATBD$91.70
Forest Inventory & Analysis$32.20$32.40$32.20$32.20
* FY22 Omnibus renames State and Volunteer Fire Assistance State and Volunteer Fire Capacity Grants respectively.
** Forest Legacy is funded in a separate LWCF account, and separate from State and Private Forestry.
*** President’s Budget request does not include any earmarked funds, nor does House Mark.  FY24 Senate Mark includes earmarks.

Community Wildfire Defense Grants

USDA announces funding opportunity for new round of investments in wildfire protection through Community Wildfire Defense Grants

Red fire department engine with a wildfire in the background

USDA Press | The Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is again accepting applications for the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program. Now in its second year, this competitive program funded by President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is designed to assist at-risk communities, including Tribal communities, non-profit organizations, state forestry agencies and Alaska Native Corporations with planning for and mitigating wildfire risks. Applications will be accepted for 90 days.

Policy Director says: “Round two of CWDG funding represents an opportunity for the southern region to build off its successful performance in round one, which funded projects in GA, KY, NC and OK for a range of activities.  As a reminder, this infrastructure-funded grant program supports both Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) development and revision as well as implementation of projects outlined in a CWPP. Please spread this news far and wide across the southern region to take advantage of these limited-time resources.”

Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Proposal Solicitation

U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service release proposal solicitation for Fiscal Year 2024. 

River in the forest.

USFS Region 8 | The United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are requesting proposals for funding under the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership (JCLRP) Program beginning in Fiscal Year (FY) 2024. The JCLRP is a tool for achieving increased collaboration among federal agencies, states, tribes, and private partners to target investments for addressing landscape-scale priorities. The intent of the program is to improve the health and resilience of forest landscapes by coordinating eligible activities across land ownerships. Selected projects will enhance collaboration among the Forest Service and NRCS, as well as many local, non-governmental, tribal, and private landowners.

Policy Director says: “A reminder of the upcoming August 22 deadline to submit FY24 Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership proposals alongside your National Forest System and NRCS partners. Since its inception in 2017, this program has supported great collaborative work between state forestry agencies, USFS-NFS and NRCS in each of the southern states. It was formally authorized in the recently-passed infrastructure bill, a sign of the important work on the ground it supports.”

Forest Legacy Program Updates

USDA Forest Service invests $188M to keep forests working, conserve private forestland

African American couple walks through the woods

USDA Press | The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $188 million investment to conserve some of the most economically and ecologically significant forestlands across the nation. The funding will support 34 projects to conserve more than 245,000 acres of working forests that are critical to rural economies in 22 states and one island territory, as part of the agency’s Forest Legacy program. $100 million of this funding comes from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which provides an additional $250 million for similar projects next year, and $88 million comes from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

SGSF Policy Director says: “There is a lot to keep track of with Forest Legacy opportunities in the South right now. The USDA Forest Service recently announced additional funded projects from the FY23 list, including four new excellent projects (two in Arkansas, one in Mississippi and one in the Virgin Islands). Currently, there are opportunities for Forest Legacy proposals both through the FY25 regular appropriations process (submissions due to USFS-R8 by August 7), as well as through FY24 Inflation Reduction Act dedicated funding for large landscape, small tract and tribal partnership projects (submissions due to USFS-R8 by December 1).”