An aggressive technology transfer program will be needed to provide landowners with information on growing and marketing trees as an alternative to traditional agricultural crops. We propose to bring together the afforestation technology that has been developed or will be developed by this project, into the context of actual farm units and show that native hardwoods are profitable alternative crops on marginal soybean land and as a buffer strip on better land along watercourses and water bodies.
A large part of the project will be outreach to the farming community, particularly limited resource farmers. Our approach will be through traditional mechanisms of key organizations and individuals, and by developing demonstration sites.
Outreach Mississippi –On January 14, 1999 all USDA agencies in Mississippi, Mississippi State University, Alcorn State University, and Mississippi Forestry Commission signed a partnership agreement to better insure delivery of programs and service to rural Mississippians. This program delivers technical assistance, public information about Forest Service programs and projects, and assistance through Economic Recovery Grants. Outreach Mississippi can provide an immediate communications link and marketing approach to reach the under-served and non-traditional landowners and communities in the Delta. Outreach Mississippi also provides access to the County Extension Service administered by Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Forestry Commission Landowner Assistance Coordinator.
Forested Flyways –The American Forest Foundation American Tree Farm System, Ducks Unlimited, and International Paper have launched a new conservation partnership to help private forest owners in the southeast to enhance waterfowl habitat, wetlands, and migratory corridors, and improved rivers, streams lakes and ponds on their properties. By promoting the benefits of forest management and opportunities to generate alternative sources of income Forested Flyways works to sustain healthy forest for the long term. This partnership provides access to a large network of forest landowners along with the opportunity for peer-to-peer education and encouragement to increase landowner awareness about the environmental and economic benefits associated with long-term planning and forest management.
A need has been identified to establish a full-time coordinator position in partnership with DU, CBHR, and other groups. This will allow the FS to provide a needed catalyst for program delivery. In addition, the individual filling this position will have a unique opportunity to work side-by-side with other non-profit organizations, federal and state agencies, and private citizens to learn partnership building techniques that are critical to the future of the Forest Service. This position will be maintained by the CBHR in Stoneville, MS. and reside in the Southern Regional Office of Ducks Unlimited.
By delivering this LMAV project through the Mississippi Partners Project, Arkansas Partners Project and the Louisiana Waterfowl Project of Ducks Unlimited in partnership with the Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research, we are able to utilize an existing infrastructure of field and administrative staff to implement the Delta Restoration Watershed Project. As a result, this multi-million dollar project can be initiated immediately. Reforestation and/or hydrology restoration does not require federal or state permitting. Annual habitat monitoring will be included as part of this project. Steps must be taken immediately (i.e., FY 2000) to identify landowners, design appropriate afforestation (primarily, match species to site and landowner objectives), and contract with nurseries for needed seedlings for planting in winter of 2000-2001 (December to February).
Outcomes to be Achieved Collaboration to Better Serve the Public
Enhancing and augmenting existing LMAV partnerships provide LMAV landowners with additional needed opportunities to participate in restoring the “delta” ecosystem through re-establishing forest and hydrology on existing agricultural lands. Unlike existing programs, this program delivery will be based on benefits to the landowner, not payments or easements. Outcomes include increased recreation, economic returns from timber management and increased land values. Through science-based research landowners will have access to valuable information and proven techniques to guide them in their decision making process. Information and techniques will include topics such as reforestation on wetter sites, methods for enhancing the restoration of forest structure and composition, and the role of riparian buffer strips. Planned research will also help managers and policy makers quantify the benefits of restoration such as water quality & carbon sequestration. Working through established partnerships, we propose to afforest 40,000 acres of cropland with bottomland hardwoods and restore hydrology to 134,000 acres over a 5-year period. The program will position the USDA Forest Service, state, corporate and private forestry interests, and potentially other parties, as interactive partners in a full array of programs providing value to the private landowner.