COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you are a woodland owner in Southeastern Ohio and interested in improving the health of your forest, the Collaborative Oak Management project could help. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications for a unique program that focuses on improving the health of oak-hickory woodlands in Southeastern Ohio.
To restore oak-hickory woodlands, NRCS and its conservation partners created the ‘Collaborative Oak Management’ project. The project area includes the Wayne National Forest and Ohio State Forests, as well as privately held forest land. Approximately 72 percent of the land within the Wayne National Forest is privately owned and interspersed within forest boundaries. The Collaborative Oak Management project provides a mechanism to restore oak-hickory woodlands seamlessly across both public and private land.
NRCS uses the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to restore oak-hickory woodlands owned privately. Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices.
Prescribed burning, or planned fire, is just one of the valuable conservation practices used to improve our state’s forest health. The Collaborative Oak Management project will utilize prescribed burning within Ohio’s woodlands for the first time. The use of this additional tool can safely reduce excessive amounts of brush, shrubs, trees and shading while encouraging and rejuvenating new growth of native oak-hickory.
Woodland owners in Adams, Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Vinton and Washington counties can receive both technical assistance from professional foresters and financial assistance to implement conservation practices recommended by foresters using EQIP.
To participate in USDA conservation programs, applicants should be forest landowners and must meet eligibility criteria. Applications signed and submitted to NRCS by the Oct. 19 deadline will be evaluated for fiscal year 2019 funding.
To learn more about the EQIP Oak Management program or other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit your local USDA Service Center or visit Get Started with NRCS.
— USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service