The California Forest Improvement Plan (CFIP) offers technical and financial assistance for practices that will improve the long-term quality of forested lands in terms of timber productivity, retention of soil cover and value for wildlife. While not specifically designed to protect wetlands, it encourages restoration of riparian and other wildlife habitat areas, including those associated with oak woodlands.
How the program works
The landowner works with a registered professional forester to develop a forestland management plan. The plan contains a description of the property, including a history of land uses, an analysis of the property's condition and capacity for improved management, a statement of the owner's objectives for the land, and a description of proposed projects, with a recommended schedule of activities. A CFIP plan can also be adapted to qualify as a Stewardship Plan for the Stewardship Incentive Program.
Once certified by the registered forester, the plan is submitted to the CDF. Agreements for approved plans usually cover a three-year period, with payments made annually. The CDF may reimburse the landowner for up to 75 percent of the cost of preparing the management plan, and in burned areas, up to 90 percent. Reimbursement for management practices, once approved, will be 75 percent of set rates, though it may go as high as 90 percent if the land has been substantially damaged by fire, insects, disease, or earthquakes within ten years of contract initiation. The agreement includes a commitment from the landowner to maintain the funded improvements and refrain from engaging in incompatible uses of the land during the ten-year period of the contract.
The annual maximum reimbursement amount for new agreements in 1994 was $30,000. The landowner's contribution to the project cost can be in the form of labor, materials, or direct outlay. Projects proposed in the plan will usually need to be completed by June 30 of each year. Typical eligible projects for wetland habitat include planting streamside areas and fencing wet meadow areas to exclude livestock and other grazers such as deer. The program is available to local governments and private owners of between 20 and 5,000 acres of forestland in California zoned for uses compatible with forest resource management. For the purposes of this program, forestland is defined as land that can support at least 10 percent tree cover.
The program was established by the California Forest Improvement Act of 1978 and is available statewide. Applications are accepted year-round, but funding is allocated on an annual basis. There is likely to be more funding available at the beginning of the year than at the end of the year. For more information, contact your local forester, or call the Forestry Assistance Hotline, 1-800-738-8733.