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NRCS in New Hampshire Announces UNHCE-Forestry as CIG Recipient

Foresters help assist landowners on decisions on how to maximize the use of their timber stand resources and focus on stand health, productivity and to wildlife habitat.  A recently awarded CIG to the University of New Hampshire aims to help identify and implement practices to rehabilitate the estimated one-third of the state forest that is comprised of poor-quality timber stands. (Natural Resources Conservation Service photo, NRCS, N.H)

DOVER, N.H., October 6, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New Hampshire has made a selection for a Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) in the state-level selection on July 9, 2020.

The NRCS has announced the University of New Hampshire (UNH) was approved for a grant of $120,000 to fund a forestry project within the state.  The grant was approved by the agency headquarters in Washington, D.C. in September with the purpose to identify poor quality forest stands and demonstrate rehabilitative silviculture in New Hampshire to support sustainable forestry in the state and provide a wide range of ecosystem services.

Conservation Innovation Grants are competitive grants that drive public and private sector innovation in resource conservation. CIG projects inspire creative problem-solving, creating systems and technologies that boost production on farms, ranches, and private forests and improve water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat.A sign informs visitors to the Oyster River Forest in Durham, N.H. of the restoration work near the campus of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) on November 11, 2019.  UNH was recently approved for a grant to address the nearly one third of the state’s forest that is made up of poor-quality timber stands with a secondary goal being to establish clear parameters around the economics and logistics when applying rehabilitative silvicultural techniques to poor-quality forest stands. (Natural Resources Conservation Service photo by Jeremy J. Fowler, Public Affairs Specialist, NRCS, N.H)

“Conservation Innovation Grants are critical for developing science, technology and innovative tools to address natural resource concerns on New Hampshire’s private working lands,” said Becky Ross, state conservationist for NRCS in New Hampshire. “We are excited to have our partners step forward to identify the concerns across the state and we look forward to seeing what innovation may be sparked from the projects these grants fund and the benefit that innovation provides our natural resources and our customers.”

The goal of the university’s project is to address the nearly one third of the state’s forest that is made up of poor-quality timber stands with a secondary goal being to establish clear parameters around the economics and logistics when applying rehabilitative silvicultural techniques to poor-quality forest stands.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to work on this with the NRCS and focus on the restoration and rehabilitation of degraded, also known as poor-quality, timber stands that we have here in New Hampshire,” said Steven Roberge, State Specialist for Forest Resources with the UNH Cooperative Extension. “For the longest time, we have tried to work to move the needle and get some practices on the ground. We think with this project we will really be able to take a look at the conditions that are on the ground, the tools that we have available to use and then come up with some practices that are reasonable and can be applied on a large scale across these stands throughout New Hampshire.”

The granite state is comprised of 83 percent forest, with an estimated annual value of nearly $1.4 billion in forest-based products based on a 2011 report.  Sustainability of this renewable resource is an important part of the state and region’s economy.  The proper management and conservation of those forests also plays a significant role in the states recreation and tourism industry with forest-based recreation producing nearly another $1.4 billion annually.

A sign informs greets visitors to the Oyster River Forest in Durham, N.H. near the campus of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) on November 11, 2019.  UNH was recently approved for a grant to address the nearly one third of the state’s forest that is made up of poor-quality timber stands with a secondary goal being to establish clear parameters around the economics and logistics when applying rehabilitative silvicultural techniques to poor-quality forest stands. (Natural Resources Conservation Service photo by Jeremy J. Fowler, Public Affairs Specialist, NRCS, N.H)The goal of this project is twofold, explains Roberge. The first is to really create clear guidelines that foresters can use to identify and categorize these stands to present them to the NRCS and show need for rehabilitation. The second goal is to develop tools and guidelines so that when a project is put on the ground it is clear what foresters need to do. “This is a part that has been missing, and something we hope to address with this opportunity,” said Roberge.

The county foresters in the state work closely with NRCS district conservationists and often they are the first stop for private forest landowners to learn about their forests and about the options they have. County foresters regularly make referrals to the NRCS based on projects the landowners are interested in, such as for forest management plans through the agency.

“This opportunity fits into a bigger effort that we are looking to really develop at UNH of actually working in these degraded and poor-quality timber stands. For us this provides and amazing jumping off point to continue our work in this area, this provides a great foundation for us to start,” said Roberge.

The CIG state component emphasizes projects that benefit a limited geographical area. Participating states announce their funding availability for CIG competitions through their state NRCS offices.  More information on the CIG programs can be found here: https://go.usa.gov/xGxrz

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