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Conservation District Offers Landowner Assistance Program

On May 6, staff will discuss options

Owning forest land in Washington is no easy task. It is not as simple as just sitting back and watching the trees grow.

The Underwood Conservation District and Washington Department of Natural Resources have assistance to offer to small forest landowners.

On Tuesday, May 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. the Underwood Conservation District and Washington Department of Natural Resources invite small forest landowners to attend a session on technical and financial assistance programs at the Park Center Building in White Salmon.

Both entities can offer assistance ranging from general advice on land management to cost-share programs that can help landowners with the technical and financial issues of many projects on their land.

Highlights of the presentation will include discussion on the Long Term Forest Practices Application, Family Forest Fish Passage Program, and Firewise program.

The Long Term Forest Practices Application is a new option for small forest landowners that became available in October 2007. This application allows landowners to apply for a forest practices permit that will be valid for 3-15 years rather than the standard 2-year permit. The process of acquiring a long term application is different than a two year application.

Over time, the long-term application should reduce paperwork, add flexibility to management, and hopefully make it a bit easier for a small forest landowner to keep their land in forestry use.

The Family Forest Fish Passage Program (FFFPP) is a voluntary program that assists small forest landowners in correcting fish barriers such as undersized culverts on their streams.

The Underwood Conservation District and Washington DNR have partnered to work on two of these projects. Last summer, Underwood CD and DNR worked with an engineer and contractor to remove a culvert on Dry Creek, a tributary to the Washougal River in western Skamania County. The barrier was replaced with a 44-foot bridge that now allows steelhead, cutthroat, and rainbow trout full access to two miles of upstream habitat.

Underwood CD and DNR will also be working to complete another project this summer on Stoller Creek near the White Salmon River in Trout Lake. This project will provide trout with access to at least 2.3 miles of additional habitat and provide the forest owner with a new structure that will allow him access to his forest land for decades to come.

The program provides financial and technical assistance to landowners who wish to replace these barriers with a fully fish passable structure -- often a larger culvert, arch, or bridge.

The state provides 75 to 100 percent of barrier removal and project construction costs. Projects are prioritized around the state, and several are completed each year.

Applications are due by June 30 to be considered for funding in 2009.

Underwood Conservation District is also currently conducting education and outreach to teach landowners techniques on reducing the hazard of wildfire. This is of interest not only to forest landowners but even urban landowners in the gorge.

On May 6, UCD staff will discuss the many ways a landowner can avoid loss of timber, home and other structures in the case of a wildfire. UCD staff are also available to conduct home or site assessments to evaluate the risk of wildfire and make specific recommendations to mitigate that risk.

UCD staff will also describe other forestry funding programs such as Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The deadline to sign up for EQIP this year is July 15.

RSVP is requested: call or e-mail Michael Ahr at WADNR: (360) 902-1849 or Michael.Ahr@dnr.wa.gov

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