Public Release: 

USDA awards funds to support sustainable forest and rangeland programs

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced three grants to help promote sustainable management practices by America's forest landowners and ranchers.

The grants from NIFA's Renewable Resources Extension Act - National Focus Fund Projects (RREA-NFF) support regional and national projects that address emerging issues through innovative projects that can be replicated in other regions.

"These awards further our commitment to enhance the sustainability of the nation's privately-owned forest and rangeland resources," said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. "Through these innovative projects delivered by Extension educators and specialists, landowners and managers will be able to make better informed, science-based decisions about their lands in order to achieve their conservation and economic goals."

Grants announced today include an Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service project to expand the use of research-based decision support tools to facilitate large landscape-scale forest planning and management on family forestlands across the Western Gulf region of the U.S. A team at Michigan State University will create interactive adult online learning materials on forest carbon science and management to build knowledge of USDA forest carbon-related initiatives, resources, tools, and incentives. A University of Minnesota Extension project will focus on the impacts of invasive species on forest ecosystems and empower woodland owners and natural resource professionals to engage with decision-makers, elected officials, and others who influence ecosystem management and resource allocations.

In fiscal year 2017, three grants totaling $300,000 were awarded. They include:

  • Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Little Rock, Arkansas, $75,000
  • Michigan State University, East Landing, Michigan, $110,000
  • University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, $115,000

Project details can be found at the NIFA website.

Previous funded projects include the Ask for Wood project led by Clemson Cooperative Extension to assist extension agents and others in learning about wood products and their role in healthy forests, a better environment, and improved rural economies. The project's website includes resources about building codes, economics of building with wood, environmental benefits to using this renewable resource, and new products and markets that can benefit private, family forest owners. The Forest Farming eXtension Community of Practice, made up of forest landowners, university faculty, and agency personnel working together to provide useful information on income-generating opportunities, hosted an eight-part webinar series about growing and marketing products grown beneath the forest canopy.

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NIFA's mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA's investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA's impact on agricultural sciences, visit http://www.nifa.usda.gov/Impacts, sign up for updates, and follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAImpacts.

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