The Forest Stewardship and Stewardship Incentive programs are companion programs created by the Federal Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990 to provide technical and financial assistance to landowners who want to protect and enhance their forest lands and associated wetlands. Both programs involve the development of a Forest Stewardship Plan designed to accommodate the needs of both the landowner and the natural resources on the property. The Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) offers technical assistance for developing the plan, while the Stewardship Incentive Program (SIP) provides cost-share assistance for both preparing and implementing the plan.
How the program works
Forest Stewardship Program: The first step for a landowner is to develop a Forest Stewardship Plan. The plan outlines a course of action for meeting the landowner's objectives for the property in a manner that will protect or enhance its forest resources. While actual management activities are not required for each of these elements, the plan needs to describe the timber, fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, wetlands, and recreational and aesthetic values of the land, and address how they will be affected by implementation of the Stewardship Plan (public access is not required). In some instances an approved Stewardship plan can cover up to 5,000 acres, but typically the maximum area is 1,000 acres, while the minimum is 20 acres. Technical assistance for development of the plan is available through the Department of Forestry and, in some areas, the local Resource Conservation District. The landowner may also contract with a registered forester for assistance in developing the plan. An existing forestland management plan can be modified to meet Forest Stewardship guidelines, or one can be developed specifically for the Stewardship Program.
Stewardship Incentive Program: Through the Stewardship Incentive Program (SIP), landowners may apply to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of the cost of preparing a plan that meets Stewardship guidelines. They may also request cost-share of up to 75 percent for carrying out the practices outlined in the plan. The landowner's share may be met through labor, materials, or direct expenditures. Payments to the landowner through the SIP may not exceed $10,000 per fiscal year. To receive financial assistance under the SIP, landowners must agree to manage the land according to the plan for at least ten years.
To be eligible for participation in the SIP, landowners must not derive most of their income from timber manufacturing on the property and they must own no more than 1,000 acres of forestland in the United States (or up to 5,000 acres with an approved waiver). Forestland is defined as rural land with at least 10 percent canopy cover or other land capable of supporting at least 10 cubic feet of wood per acre per year under natural conditions.
Nationwide. Applications are accepted year-round. This program was initiated through the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 and may be altered during the reauthorization process required for that legislation in 1995. Contact the Forestry Assistance Hotline, 1-800-738-8733, for more information or to participate in the program.