Georgia Forestry Commission rolls out aid for forest landowners
The Georgia Forestry Commission is rolling out emergency assistance for landowners impacted by Hurricane Michael. Aid approved by the Georgia Legislature in November includes $20 million for debris cleanup in areas where the storm decimated millions of acres of forestland and tree orchards. Two programs are available to help landowners with specific needs: the Forest Debris Management Program and the Forest Access Road & Firebreak Restoration Project. Separate application procedures are required for each program.
Landowners who have 10 or more acres of forestland or a commercial orchard of any size with trees damaged by Hurricane Michael are eligible for the Forest Debris Management Program (FDMP). The sign-up period runs through Feb. 11 and applications can be downloaded on the GFC website at http://gatrees.org/forest-management/storm- damage/FDMP.cfm. Landowners may apply for debris management funds retroactively. Approved applicants will be notified in writing beginning Feb. 25 and funding levels and guidelines will be included. Upon completion of the work, participants will be required to submit official cost documentation and a detailed map showing boundaries and debris management routes. Cost share payments are based on 80 percent of the documented cost. The average cost of clearing debris from forestland across the Southeast is about $500 per acre. Cost share may be limited per taxpayer identification number and a per-acre cap may be set, depending on the demand for funds. The Georgia Development Authority is responsible for payments.
Another program to assist more specifically with fire prevention activities is available to landowners in the designated 28-county disaster area impacted by Hurricane Michael. The Forest Access Road and Firebreak Restoration Project provides for the clearing of forest debris from existing firebreaks and roads at no cost to the landowner. The project is designed to create a more manageable situation should wildfires become prevalent in the region. Eligible tracts must have had existing tree cover containing forest roads and established firebreaks immediately prior to the storm’s arrival. Written applications will be accepted through Feb. 28 and are available at http://gatrees.org/forest-management/storm-damage/FARFRP.cfm, along with detailed project requirements.
For more information about hurricane relief programs and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit www.GaTrees.org.