Forest Service Seeks Forest Health Grant Applications

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Applications are now being accepted by the Eastern Arizona Counties Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) for projects that can be funded under the Title II authority of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act recently extended through 2013. Successful applicants receive funding on a reimbursement basis.

Although the primary location for Title II projects is on federal lands administered by the Apache-Sitgreaves and the Tonto National Forest, the projects can be on non-federal lands within Apache, Gila, Graham, Greenlee and Navajo counties where projects would benefit resources and those who use them on these national forests.

The act authorizes the U.S. Forest Service to enter into agreements or provide grants to other federal agencies, state and local governments, and private and non-profit entities for projects that improve the maintenance of existing infrastructure, such as roads, trails, or recreation facilities, or projects that improve forest health and restore and improve land health and water quality.

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 project proposal will be evaluated on the basis of cost-effectiveness, to what extent partners are involved, its educational value, how the project improves the quality of human life, including any employment opportunities, and what benefits accrue to ecosystem health. Projects will generally be less than $75,000.

Funding will become available in early 2013. Potential applicants should discuss their proposal with the affected district ranger, because the proposal must have district ranger support. The act allows Title II funds to be used for some of the costs of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis and/or for on-the-ground project implementation. Project proposals will be reviewed at a September 2012 RAC meeting. Projects will be funded in early 2013. Deadline for submission of project applications is Aug. 27, 2012.

For grant applications on the Tonto National Forest, contact Sherry Smith via e-mail at sherrysmith@fs.fed.us or by phone at (602) 225-5383.

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