Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP)

To assist landowners in restoring and enhancing forest ecosystems to: promote the recovery of threatened and endangered species; improve biodiversity; and enhance carbon sequestration.



Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - See Regional Agency Offices.

Local Service Centers can be found in the blue pages of the local telephone directory under the heading USDA Service Center or through the office locator assistance on the NRCS website found at www.nrcs.usda.gov.



Program Accomplishments

Not Applicable.

Uses and Use Restrictions

HFRP restoration agreements and easements are designed for working Agricultural lands.

HFRP is a voluntary program to assist landowners in restoring, enhancing and maintaining forest ecosystems on private lands through easements, contracts and restoration agreements.

Easements, contracts, and restoration agreements shall be maintained in accordance with HFRP goals and objectives for the duration of the restoration agreement and easement including the restoration, protection, enhancement, maintenance, and management of habitat for listed species within a forest ecosystem's functions and values.

For the duration of its term, the easement shall require, at a minimum, that the landowner, and the landowner's heirs, successors and assigns, shall cooperate in the restoration, protection, enhancement, maintenance, and management of the land in accordance with the easement and with the terms of the HFRP restoration plan.

In addition, the easement shall grant to the United States, through the NRCS: a right of access to the easement area; the right to permit compatible uses of the easement area,if such use is consistent with the long-term protection and enhancement of the purposes for which the easement was established; the right to determine compatible uses on the easement area and specify the amount, method, timing, intensity and duration of the compatible use; the rights, title and interest to the easement area as specified in the conservation easement deed; and the right to perform restoration, protection, enhancement, maintenance, and management activities on the easement area.

The landowner shall convey title to the easement which is acceptable to the NRCS.

The landowner shall warrant that the easement granted to the United States is superior to the rights of all others, except for exceptions to the title which are deemed acceptable by the NRCS.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

To be eligible to enroll an easement or restoration agreement in the HFRP, a person must: be the landowner of eligible private land for which enrollment is sought; agree to provide such information to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as the Agency deems necessary or desirable to assist in its determination of eligibility for program benefits and for other program implementation purposes.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Only landowners.

Credentials/Documentation

Be the landowner of eligible land for which enrollment is sought; and agree to provide such information to NRCS as the agency deems necessary or desirable to assist in its determination of eligibility for program benefits and for other program implementation purposes. 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles applies to this program.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Any owner meeting eligibility criteria may submit an application for participation.

Applications are accepted in local USDA Service Center Offices during announced enrollment sign-up periods.

USDA will establish criteria to evaluate and rank applications for easement and restoration agreement enrollment, criteria will be detailed in the sign-up notice.

NRCS will identify through a sign-up notice process the geographic scope and ranking priorities for that particular sign-up.

Environmental impact information is not required for this program.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.

12372.

Application Procedures

2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. 2 CFR 200 applies only to the program activities implemented through a cooperative agreement.

Award Procedures

NRCS will not acquire any easement unless the landowner accepts the amount of the easement payment which is offered by NRCS. The easement payment may or may not equal the fair market value of the interests and rights to be conveyed by the landowner under the easement. By voluntarily participating in the program, a landowner waives any claim to additional compensation based on fair market value.

Deadlines

Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.

Authorization

Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003, Title V, Section 501, Public Law 108-148, 117 Stat. 1911, 16 U.S.C 6571-6578.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Within a Federal fiscal year (October 1 September 30) based on funding availability.

Appeals

A person participating in the HFRP may obtain a review of any administrative determination concerning eligibility for participation utilizing the administrative appeal regulations provided in 7 CFR Part 614.

Renewals

The land offered may be re-offered in a future sign-up unless the land or landowner is ineligible.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Statutory formulas are not applicable to this program. Matching Requirements: not specified. MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Land may be enrolled in HFRP in accordance with a 10-year restoration cost-share agreement, a 30-year easement, a 30-year contract, or a permanent easement or the maximum duration permitted by State law. 30-year contracts are only available to acreage owned by Indian Tribes. Financial assistance for easement acquisition is provided at closing. For restoration agreements, payments are made annually on the agreement anniversary date of USDA approval. For easements, contracts, and restoration agreements, if restoration activities are required, financial assistance for such activities is provided when required practices are established. Technical assistance is available for the length of the easement or restoration agreement. See the following for information on how assistance is awarded/released: Easement payments may be made in a single payment or not more than 10 annual payments of equal or unequal size, as agreed to between NRCS and the landowner.

Post Assistance Requirements

Reports

No reports are required.

Audits

In accordance with the provisions of 2 CFR 200, Subpart F - Audit Requirements, non-Federal entities that expend financial assistance of $750,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Non-Federal entities that expend less than $750,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in 2 CFR 200.503.

Records

Records will be maintained in the county NRCS office, State NRCS office and Federal Record Centers for the length of the agreement. The easement (deed restriction) and applicable documents will be recorded in the local land records office for the duration of the easement. Agreements are filed with the Agency.

Financial Information

Account Identification

12-1090-0-1-302; 12-1004-0-1-302.

Obigations

(Salaries) FY 16 $33,000; FY 17 est $358,000; and FY 18 est $0. (Direct Payments for Specified Use) FY 16 $671,000; FY 17 est $7,127,000; and FY 18 est $0

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

The average estimated cost per acre for easement acquisition was approximately $1,048. Congressional authorization of funds for HFRP is discretionary. Currently funds for HFRP are only available under the Regional Conservationist Partnership Program (RCPP).

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

HFRP Regulations are published in the Federal Register and 7 CFR Part 625.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See Regional Agency Offices. Local Service Centers can be found in the blue pages of the local telephone directory under the heading USDA Service Center or through the office locator assistance on the NRCS website found at www.nrcs.usda.gov.

Headquarters Office

John Rissler 1400 Independence Ave, SW, Washington, District of Columbia 20250 Email: John.Rissler@wdc.usda.gov Phone: 202-720-3524

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The Secretary of Agriculture shall give priority to the enrollment of land that provides the greatest conservation benefit to primarily, species listed as endangered or threatened under 16 U.S.C. 1533; and secondarily, species that are not listed as endangered or threatened under 16 U.S.C. 1533; but are candidates for such listing, State-listed species, or special concern species. The Secretary of Agriculture shall also consider the cost-effectiveness of each agreement or easement, and associated restoration plans, so as to maximize the environmental benefits per dollar expended. Specific criteria to determine how individual proposals satisfy the statutory criteria mentioned above will be set forth in the sign-up announcement.



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