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NRCS and The Last Green Valley Announce Funding

Whether you live in or travel through the path from Boston to Washington, DC, you’re most likely familiar with what can easily be called a green oasis – the Southern New England Heritage Forest.

This last undeveloped region in an area full of sprawl is 1.49 million acres of unfragmented forest stretching along the Connecticut/Rhode Island border to the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts. With more than 1 million residents, it is an astonishing 76% forest cover, bounded by heavily urbanized areas of the second, third, and fourth most densely-populated states in the country – one of the last viable wildlife corridors from southern to northern New England.

Protecting this significant area is paramount to conservation agencies and organizations throughout Southern New England. One of them, The Last Green Valley, took the lead by applying for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) which promotes coordination between itself and its partners to deliver conservation assistance. Through RCPP, NRCS has earmarked $6.1 to help private landowners in the Southern New England Heritage Forest area protect their woodlands while improving vital habitat for important bird species. An additional $6.1 million in contributions has been levied by conservation partners including MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership, Opacum Land Trust, the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District, and 16 additional organizations.

Deadline for applications is July 20, 2018; however, there are preliminary steps that must be completed first. If you’re a producer or landowner in the Southern New England Heritage Forest area and want to find out if you qualify, locate your nearest point of contact on the list below, and get in touch with them as soon as possible.

    Bill Reid - (860) 774-3300
    Ed Hood - (508) 347-9144  (leave a voicemail with your contact information)

Application materials are available on The Last Green Valley’s website.

Between 2011 and 2017, federal and non-profit organizations conducted extensive forest landowner outreach in the region, and established a network who educated and engaged landowners interested in improving and conserving their forested properties. This RCPP Project will connect these forest landowners, who would not traditionally interact with NRCS or know about their programs and services. This remarkable partnership will offer private woodland owners a suite of NRCS tools for sound management and forestry conservation practices through the agency’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and permanent protection through easements under the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP). The project will serve as a conservation pipeline of forest and bird habitat plans, EQIP practices, and HFRP easements on private forestlands in order to accelerate the pace of conservation in the Southern New England Heritage Forest.