ATHENS — James E. Tillman Sr., state conservationist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Georgia, announced recently that 19 more South Georgia counties are in the high-priority category for funding for the Southeast Forestry Initiative. The goal of the SFI is to develop, enhance or restore pine savannah habitats by the management and restoration of longleaf pine on private lands.
The 19 counties that have been listed as high-priority, in addition to the 69 previously listed counties, are: Atkinson, Brantley, Berrien, Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch Cook, Echols, Glynn, Lanier, Liberty, Long, Lowndes, McIntosh, Pierce, Ware and Wayne.
Counties in the medium- and low-priority categories will be considered as long as funding is available.
Participants agree to implement a wildlife habitat development plan that addresses longleaf pine establishment, and the NRCS agrees to provide cost-share assistance for the initial implementation of wildlife habitat development practices.
The criteria for this initiative are:
• Participants must meet eligibility requirements.
• Individuals, group of landowners or non-government organizations are eligible but must have evidence of control or ownership of land.
• Cost-share rate is set at 75 percent.
• The contracts are for five years with a minimum of 10 acres of land owned and a maximum of $25,000 per contract.
• Prescribed burning and pre-commercial thinning may only be used in longleaf pine stands.
• Planting or thinning loblolly, slash, Virginia, shortleaf or sand pine is not approved in this wildlife habitat incentive program signup.
• Longleaf pines must be planted on proper sites.
• Interested producers should contact their local USDA Service Center for additional information. More information is available at www.ga.nrcs.usda.gov.
NRCS is celebrating 75 years of helping people help the land. Since 1935, the NRCS conservation delivery system has advanced a partnership with state and local governments and private landowners delivering conservation based on specific, local conservation needs while accommodating state and national interests.