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The Healthy Forests Initiative and Healthy Forests Restoration Act
Interim Field Guide

Title III—Watershed Forestry Assistance

T his title provides assistance to expand forest steward­ship capacities and activities through forestry best management practices and other means to address watershed issues on non-Federal forested and potentially forested land (Section 302), including lands under Tribal jurisdiction (Section 303). The title’s overall purposes include:

  • Improving public understanding of the connection between forest management and watershed health

  • Encouraging property owners to maintain tree cover and use tree plantings and vegetative treatments as creative solutions to watershed problems

  • Enhancing forest management and riparian buffer use in watersheds, with an emphasis on community watersheds

  • Establishing partnerships and collaborative watershed approaches to forest management, stewardship, and conservation

Watershed Forestry Assistance

This program, which is to be administered by the USDA Forest Service and implemented by the State foresters or equivalent State officials, authorizes an appropriation of $15 million each fiscal year from 2004 through 2008. This section directs the USDA Forest Service, in cooperation with participating State foresters, to:

  • Engage interested members of the public, including nonprofit organizations and local watershed councils, to develop a program of technical assistance to protect water quality

  • Establish a watershed forestry cost-share program that provides for:

    • Awards to communities, nonprofit groups, and nonindustrial forest landowners for watershed forestry projects

    • Selection of priority watersheds by State forest stewardship committees or their equivalents to target funding for projects

    • Creation of State watershed forester positions

Tribal Watershed Forestry Assistance

This program, which is to be administered by the USDA Forest Service and implemented by participating Tribes, authorizes appropriations of $2,500,000 each fiscal year from 2004 through 2008. This section directs the USDA Forest Service, in cooperation with participating Tribes, to:

  • Develop a program to provide technical assistance to protect water quality
  • Establish a watershed forestry program that provides for:
    • Annual awards to Tribes for watershed forestry projects
    • Selection of priority watersheds to target funding for projects
    • Opportunities to create Tribal watershed forester positions

Developing Program Guidelines

The guidelines for implementing Sections 302 and 303 will highlight the link between healthy forests, healthy watersheds, and clean water; encourage the use of forests and forestry practices in protecting and restoring watersheds; and promote partnerships and collaborative approaches through community-based, watershed-scale planning and management of forested landscapes. The guidelines will provide information on the technical and financial assistance available; outline eligibility requirements for Tribes, landowners, and other entities; and discuss criteria for allocation of funds. Tables 1 and 2 provide timelines for developing the guidelines.

Table 1—The timeline for developing Section 302 guidelines
during 2004 (Watershed Forestry Assistance Program)
Month Task
January Form a workgroup including representatives of State forestry agencies, the USDA Forest Service, and USDA Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service.
February to
September
Develop and implement a communication plan
September for public outreach.
March March Publish the Federal Register notice of intent to develop guidelines. A 30-day comment period will be provided.
March to
September
Develop and refine drafts of the guidelines based
September on comments from the public, other agencies,
and interested stakeholders.
October

Issue the final guidelines and publish the Federal Register notice of availability of the guidelines.

 

Table 2—The timeline for developing Section 303 guidelines during 2004
(Tribal Watershed Forestry Assistance Program)
Month Task
January Begin coordination with Tribes and Tribal organizations.
February to
March
Request input from Tribes through a Federal Register notice and other means on Tribes’preferences for Tribal coordination, their need for technical assistance, and an overall approach for implementing Section 303.
March to
September
Form a workgroup of USDA Forest Service September and Tribal representatives to develop and refine drafts of the guidelines.
October

Publish the Federal Register notice of availability of the guidelines and distribute the final guidelines to the Tribes.


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