If a tree falls in a forest -- through neglect or improper management -- does it really impact the planet? The answer to that question is a resounding yes, and it’s all tied to greenhouse gases. On average, an acre of eastern hardwoods sequesters 85 tons of CO2 equivalent. If you multiply that number by hundreds of trees, the global impact becomes readily apparent.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has partnered with The Nature Conservancy to support sustainable forests and carbon market development in targeted areas of Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky through the Healthy Forest Reserve Program. The HFRP offers financial assistance in the form of easement payments for specific conservation actions on private forest and tribal lands.

Virginia is offering HFRP through a Regional Conservation Partnership Program project with The Nature Conservancy in the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and Wythe. Eligible landowners should submit applications on or before Dec. 30, 2019, to be eligible for fiscal year 2020 funding.

The HFRP offers 30-year term and permanent easement options as well as a 30-year contract for tribal lands. USDA pays 75% of the value of land enrolled in 30-year easements, plus 75% of the average cost of the approved conservation practices. Landowners opting for permanent easements can receive 100% of the easement value of the enrolled land as well as priority in the ranking process.

To apply or get more information, contact Nature Conservancy representatives Steve Lindeman or Greg Meade (276-676- 2209); Natural Resources Conservation Service Easement Program Manager Diane Dunaway (804-287-1634); or the NRCS field offices serving eligible counties. Learn more about HFRP and other Farm Bill programs at www.va.nrcs.usda.gov/.

Submitted by John Markon

Submitted by John Markon

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