Carol Sanders | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
The Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention (SFLR) Program begins at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) on Oct. 1.
The Small Farm Program at UAPB has received a grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to implement the SFLR Program, announced Dr. Henry English, head of the Small Farm Program at UAPB.
The SFLR Program is part of the “Keeping it in the Family” forest conservation model which is a collaboration of federal, state, local, private and community-based organizations to eliminate barriers to keeping private forest lands in families. The U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) are partnering with the U.S. Endowment on the forest management program.
The three-year SFLR Program will invest in the Small Farm Program and a group of community-based networks in Arkansas to promote forest health and productivity while stemming the loss of African-American owned rural land.
“We want landowners to realize the value of properly managed forest land,” said Dr. English. For example, a well-managed pine stand will yield 2.5 tons per acre per year while an unmanaged stand may yield 1 ton per acre per year or less. Properly managed forest land will be ready to harvest in 30 to 35 years as compared to unmanaged forest land which will probably take 50 years, according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture publication FSA 5023 “Managing Loblolly Pine Stands . . . from A to Z.”
To reach the goal of increasing forest landowner income, continued Dr. English, the program will provide:
- Forestry management outreach meetings.
- One-on-one forestry management assistance.
- Forestry management plans through the Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC).
- Financial assistance in installing forestry improvement practices through NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).
- Legal service to resolve heir property issues.
- A revolving loan plan to pay contractors while waiting for reimbursement from the EQIP Program.
- A multifaceted approach to timber markets.
The immediate program goal is to help at least 20 forest landowners qualify for forestry assistance through such programs as the EQIP Program, the Southern Pine Beetle Prevention and Restoration Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
Other organizations partnering with UAPB include the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts (AACD), the AFC, the Arkansas Land and Community Development (ALCD), the Silas H. Hunt Community Development Corporation (SHHCDC) and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) Bowen School of Law and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB).
The program will be conducted in Columbia, Hempstead, Howard, Little River, Nevada, Ouachita and Union counties. Joe Friend, former district forester with the AFC, has been hired by UAPB to work with landowners in the SFLR Program.