APRIL 23, 2014

Funding available to improve watersheds and forest health

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SPRINGERVILLE – Projects that improve the maintenance of existing infrastructure such as roads, trails, and recreation facilities or projects that improve forest health and restore and improve land health and water quality can potentially qualify for funding under the authority of the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act of 2000, as re-authorized in 2013. Grant applications from federal agencies, state and local governments, and private and non-profit entities are being accepted by the Eastern Arizona Counties Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) until May 31, 2014. Selected recipients receive funding on a reimbursement basis.

The primary location for projects is intended to be on federal lands on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (all districts), and the Coronado National Forest (Safford Ranger District), and the Tonto National Forest (Globe, Pleasant Valley, Tonto Basin, or Payson districts). However, projects can be on non-federal lands within Greenlee, Gila, Navajo, Graham, and Apache counties where projects would benefit the National Forests.

The following types of projects are eligible:
Road, trail, and infrastructure maintenance or obliteration
Soil productivity improvement
Improvements in forest ecosystem health
Watershed and stream restoration and maintenance
Restoration, maintenance, and improvement of wildlife habitat
Control of noxious weeds
Re-establishment of native species

Each application will be evaluated on the proposed project’s cost-effectiveness, extent of partner involvement, educational value, improvement to the quality of human life including employment opportunities, and benefits to ecosystem health. Selected projects will generally be less than $75,000 though worthy proposals may be considered at higher funding levels.

Potential applicants should discuss their proposal with the closest District Ranger before submitting an application, since the proposal must have District Ranger support before it can be considered for funding. The Act allows RAC funds to be used for the costs of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis or for on-the-ground project implementation.  All project proposals for on-the-ground project work need to be NEPA sufficient at the time of the proposal.

Some project proposals will be recommended for funding with fiscal year 2013 dollars; those funds will be available to reimburse applicants as early as the summer of 2014. The legal paperwork cannot be signed until the Title II funds are made available to the Forest Service. Successful applicants must ensure that the required legal paperwork is completed and signed before they begin their project. Deadline for submission of project applications is May 31, 2014. 

Electronic grant applications are available on the Eastern Arizona RAC website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/RAC or upon request to jvieth@fs.fed.us. For more information contact Joe Vieth at the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests at 928-333-6261 or see http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/asnf/workingtogether/grants.