Healthy Forest Watershed Initiative Seeks Applicants
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is seeking applicants from the Big Island who have non-industrial private forest land and are interested in restoring native forest habitats for threatened and endangered species.
Funds are now available to cover these projects as the State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources has become Hawai’i’s first recipient of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
Through a partnership between NRCS and the DLNR, the two engage local and regional stakeholders in science-based collaborative and community-driven land management activities.
A major aspect of the partnership is the planning, prioritization, implementation, and monitoring of non-industrial private forest lands.
“We are very excited to partner with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to protect Hawai’i’s native forests,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR Chairperson. “These forests are critical to Hawai’i’s economy because they capture and supply our fresh water. Forests prevent erosion that muddies our coral reefs and fisheries, and protect the native plants and animals unique to our islands.”
Funds will be provided from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program through the Farm Bill. Through EQIP, an application, evaluation, and ranking process will take place to address resource concerns like improving surface water, improving ground water quality, reducing soil erosion, and increasing native forest habitat for threatened and endangered species.
“Now that the watershed boundaries have been identified, we look forward to this partnership in protecting and improving healthy forests across the islands,” said Bruce Petersen, NRCS Director of the Pacific Islands Area.
In addition to the Big Island, applications are also being accepted on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.
The deadline to apply for the RCPP Health Forest Initiative is June 5.
Only agricultural producers in the watershed partnership areas are eligible and should apply for the RCPP Health Forest Initiative. Land enrolled in this initiative must meet EQIP eligibility.
Those interested in learning more can visit the NRCS website.