AUGUSTA, Maine — The success of a recent series of meetings for family forest landowners has paved the way for continuing outreach events, according to Maine Forest Service officials.
The meetings have generated more interest by Maine landowners in getting federal and state assistance for managing their forestland in sustainably productive ways, Andy Shultz, MFS landowner outreach forester, said Wednesday.
“I was really encouraged by the number of participants at our meetings,” Shultz said. “It shows there’s a big interest in managing forestland and seeking assistance.”
A total of 250 landowners, foresters and interested residents attended 13 sessions held in March across Maine, from Madawaska to Buxton. “The meetings were prompted by a desire to explain the provisions of the federal 2008 Farm Bill that provide financial and technical assistance to nonindustrial forest landowners,” said Shultz. “The larger purpose, however, is to help folks obtain a forest management plan that not only will allow them access to government programs, but also to make informed decisions about managing their woodlands.”
The federal bill offers a variety of conservation programs administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, most notably the Environmental Quality Incentives Program .
Participants had the opportunity to ask questions and to speak informally with local consulting foresters and agency representatives. Private consulting foresters also attended the sessions to take the information to their own clients.
The MFS outreach forester said the meetings accomplished one significant goal, “to help people see the bigger picture of managing lots and how government programs fit in.” The point was made that even if the landowners choose not to enroll in a program, the state and federal agencies are there for them as a resource, Shultz said.
The meetings were held by local Soil and Water Conservation Districts and led jointly by MFS and NRCS. Sponsorship came from funds provided by NRCS, MFS and the Small Woodlot Owners Association. They also are part of a larger collaborative effort to be announced in May.
Another series of meetings will be held later this year. Customized meetings about forest management also can be scheduled for individuals or for groups, such as a family or group of neighbors, a land trust or garden club, or a watershed association or town.
For information about WoodsWISE, EQIP, and forest management in general, contact Andy Shultz at 287-8430 or go to www.me.nrcs.usda.gov to find the nearest USDA Service Center.