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U.S. Forest Service grants support forests, rural America

Posted on Oct 25, 2023 at 18:00 PM

On Oct. 18, the USDA announced that the U.S. Forest Service is making nearly $50 million in grant funding available for proposals that support crucial links between resilient, healthy forests, strong rural economies and jobs in the forestry sector.

“A strong forest products economy contributes to healthier forests, vibrant communities and jobs in rural areas,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We are investing in rural economies by growing markets for forest products through sustainable forest management while reducing wildfire risk, fighting climate change, and accelerating economic development.”

The grant funding is part of the Biden administration’s plan to generate economic opportunity and build a clean energy economy nationwide. The grants authorized under the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate investment in history and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, an historic investment to rebuild America’s aging infrastructure.

The open funding opportunity comes through the Forest Service’s three key grant programs to support the forest products economy: Wood Innovations Grant, Community Wood Grant, and Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance Grant Programs. The agency is seeking proposals that support innovative uses of wood in the construction of low carbon buildings, as a renewable energy source, and in manufacturing and processing products. These programs also provide direct support to expand and retrofit wood energy systems and wood products manufacturing facilities nationwide.

The Forest Service is requesting proposals from eligible entities in the private, non-profit, and government sectors including Tribes, local and state governments, businesses and for-profit entities, institutions of higher education, as well as public utility, fire, conservation, and school districts, among others.

These investments will support forest management projects to improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk across all land ownerships. Byproducts of these activities, like small diameter timber and woody biomass, have historically been of little market value. Thanks in part to these Forest Service grant programs, funding is available to support the use of this often-unused material in many types of wood products.

Businesses that are engaged in or support the forest products economy are eligible to apply for funding to expand manufacturing capacity. These businesses are vital employers in local communities, especially in tribal or rural communities.

The investments will also support the Forest Service’s 10-year strategy to address the wildfire crisis in the places where it poses the most immediate threats to communities. The agency is investing in projects that source wood from activities that reduce risks to communities, like prescribed fire and mechanical thinning to reduce the vegetation that fuels wildfires.

Visit the Forest Service webpage for more information on funding for the Wood Innovations, Community Wood and Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance Grant Programs.

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