Thursday, June 10, 2010

DNR Inspection for FLEP

DNR Forester Bart Ausland visited our property yesterday to inspect work we performed under our Forestland Enhancement Program (FLEP) cost-share agreement that will expire on June 30.

Ausland said the thinning and pruning we've done all look good, in line with the specifications for those practices. And he told us we won't receive the full amount of the FLEP contract because we haven't burned enough slash piles (and now we're into summer burn ban).

Washington's Department of Natural Resources was hit by a state budget crisis a couple of years ago, and most of the Stewardship Forester positions were eliminated. That put small forest landowners at a disadvantage. We relied on those experts for guidance, particularly when it came to interpreting how the rules of FLEP play out on the ground.

Some people from other parts of DNR find time to perform a few of the services of a Stewardship Forester. Among those services is the administration of FLEP, in which federal funds are distributed by state agencies. (This is somewhat akin to how ARRA energy stimulus funds were administered by State Energy Programs.)

FLEP supports landowners who want to manage healthy stands and prevent destructive forest fires, but who are faced with the harsh economic realities of small parcels and sub-merchantable trees. FLEP pays 50%, up to a modest limit per acre, of the cost of pre-commercial thinning, pruning, and slash disposal.

You don't have to choose between FLEP and EQIP, there are ways to combine the two on your land.  Compare FLEP and EQIP as we did, but contact the agencies to get the current year's rates.

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