By Hannah Wagner and James Wright
In the United States over 50% percent of forestland is owned and managed by more than 10 million private landowners. Growing and managing these forests as healthy ecosystems requires collaboration. To help private landowners meet their forest management objectives and retain ownership of their forestland, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has partnered with state forestry agencies to enhance delivery of technical and financial assistance to family forestland owners.
To facilitate the utilization of NRCS forestry programs by state forestry agencies, NRCS and NASF created a new contract position. The Forestry Partnership Coordinator’s main objective is to assist NRCS state conservationists and state foresters in establishing or enhancing state-level collaborative efforts.
Ohio is an excellent example of a successful NRCS-state forestry partnership. To ensure forests statewide remain healthy and productive, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry entered into a formal agreement with NRCS in 2006 to provide technical assistance on nearly 5.8 million acres of family-owned forestland.
In 2020 alone, Ohio forestland owners utilized $1.5 million in NRCS financial assistance to complete 177 forestry projects, bolstering air, water, and soil quality, carbon sequestration, abundant wildlife, and human wellness.
Shortly after solidifying their partnership in 2007, the Ohio state conservationist helped establish the Joint Forestry Team (JFT). Today, this national-level initiative consists of four partners—NRCS, NASF, USDA Forest
Service, and National Association of Conservation Districts—and works to improve coordinated, interagency assistance for family forestland owners. Ohio used the JFT template to establish their own Interagency Forestry Team that includes all of the state’s agencies that have forestry mission areas.
Read more about Ohio’s forestry programs for private landowners and its efforts to restore and enhance forested lands by clicking the attachment below. More NRCS-state forestry partnership success stories will be added to NASF’s blog in the future, so stay tuned!
Have questions? Contact James Wright, NASF Forestry Partnership Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss state-level collaborative efforts and JFT national priorities.