What is the Forest Stewardship Program?
The Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) is a forest management program that offers private woodland owners guidance and financial assistance to protect and improve the timber, wildlife, soils, water, recreation, and aesthetic values of their forest. In each state, the program is administered trough a State Stewardship Coordinating Committee made up of representatives from federal, state and private natural resource agencies, environmental organizations, forest landowners, and industry. FSP funding originates with the USDA Forest Service, State & Private Forestry and is passed to a State agency for distribution to landowners. In West Virginia the Division of Forestry manages the FSP.
What is the Goal of the FSP?
The FSP assists landowners in actively managing their forest resources, in maintaining the lands in a productive and healthy condition for present and future owners, and in increasing the economic and environmental benefits of these lands. The goal of the program is to provide landowners with written Forest Stewardship Management Plans that outline management activities based on a landowner's objectives. Following development of the Plan landowners are encouraged to conduct management activities on their forestland to meet their objectives. Whatever the landowner's interest, financial and technical assistance is available to help protect and improve soils and water, enhance wildlife habitat, create recreational opportunities, maintain aesthetics, protect endanger species, manage invasive species, and improve timber and wood product potential, while ensuring the forest's capacity for self-renewal.
What are the Eligibility Requirements for Enrollment?
Non-industrial private woodland owners who own between 10 and 1,000 acres of qualifying woodland or potential woodland are eligible to participate. Exceptions can be granted for up to 5,000 acres. To qualify, woodland must be rural with existing tree cover or other woody vegetation, or suitable for growing such vegetation, and owned by an individual, group, association, private corporation, or other legal private entity.
How Can a Landowner Enroll?
A landowner can become a forest steward by developing a Forest Stewardship Management Plan with the assistance of a stewardship certified professional forester. Cost-share assistance is available to develop the Management Plan and to carry out other forest management activities once enrolled in the program.
Landowners may enroll in the Program by: 1) Selecting a private or public certified professional Forest Stewardship forester or technician; 2) Completing and submitting the Forest Stewardship Program Plan Application, the Vendor Registration and Disclosure Statement form, and the W-9 Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification form, and 3) Receiving written approval from the Division of Forestry prior to beginning any field work. For more information, please contact your local West Virginia Division of Forestry field office or call 304-558-2788 and ask to speak with someone about enrolling your land in the Stewardship Program.
What Cost-Share Incentive Programs are Available?
Current cost-share programs available to forest landowners include the Forest Land Enhancement Program (FLEP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). FLEP is administered through the WV Division of Forestry. The other programs are administered through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or Farm Service Agency offices.
What role does the Appalachian Hardwood Center play in the WV Forest Stewardship Program (WV FSP)?
The AHC is home to the WV FSP Education & Outreach Project. AHC forest stewardship activities began in 2001 and include landowner tours of exemplary stewardship properties; and hosting workshops on topics such as portable sawmill use, invasive species control, and forest taxation and estate planning. In addition, AHC faculty and staff conduct research on topics such as: landowner satisfaction with timber harvesting; characteristics of forest roads on stewardship and non-stewardship properties; and the role of landowners in promoting forest heritage. The AHC supports the Master Forestland Owner/COVERTS workshops and is active in the Woodland Owners Association of West Virginia. AHC staff members produce a quarterly newsletter for the WV FSP as well as extension bulletins on topics relevant to forest landowners.