Forest Service Eastern Region Distributes $4.2M in Grants to Support Healthy Forests

Release Date: Apr 12, 2021

Contact(s): Lindsey Lewis

Milwaukee, WI (April 12, 2021) – The USDA Forest Service Eastern Region is pleased to announce the distribution of over $4.2 million in grants across the Northeast and Midwest to restore the health of rural forestText on a forest background/ Text is in body. landscapes.

“Through the Landscape Scale Restoration competitive grant program, we provide funding directly to states, nonprofits and other partners for significant collaborative forest restoration projects,” said Gina Owens, Eastern Regional Forester. “This year’s projects are extensive and range from enhancing climate-adapted coastal forests in Wisconsin to fostering engagement and developing resources to support women forest owners in Vermont. We are a proud partner in these efforts.”

This year, 15 funded projects will collectively:

  • Improve forest ecosystem health and benefits for nearly 600,000 acres of forest land through forest management for wildlife, removal of invasive species, treatment for hazardous fuels, prescribed burns and restoration of riparian areas.
  • Plant 18,000 trees and shrubs in rural communities.
  • Provide technical assistance and training to over 8,400 private forest landowners and practitioners.
  • Reach over 280,000 people through outreach and educational programs.
  • Develop over 460 plans for improved management of over 28,000 acres.

The Landscape Scale Restoration (LSR) competitive grant program encourages collaborative, science-based restoration of rural forest landscapes and addresses State Forest Action Plan priorities while leveraging public and private resources. The Eastern Region has distributed nearly $24 million in funding for LSR projects since 2016.

2021 Forest Service Eastern Region Landscape Scale Restoration Grant Recipients:

Projects will benefit the following sovereign Tribal Nations and states: Ho-Chunk Nation, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin


Grantee: Shawnee Resource Conservation and Development, Inc.

Federal investment: $181,178

Non-federal match: $181,874

Project Description: The River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area (RTRCWMA), Southern Illinois Prescribed Burn Association (SIPBA) and Forest Restoration Support Team (FRST) operate in the southernmost 11 counties of Illinois and are poised to deliver invasive species and prescribed burn training and management across the region. Partner projects are underway that complement and provide significant leverage to this proposal. This proposal asks for the continued support of the FRST, SIPBA and RTRCWMA. These operations depend on funded coordinators.



Grantee: State of Minnesota

Federal investment: $295,000

Non-federal match: $295,000

Project Description: This project will increase collaborative protection and restoration of family forests adjacent to county lands in north-central Minnesota. This three-county (Aitkin, Crow Wing, Cass) pilot project implements science-based strategies in the state's 2020 Forest Action Plan through cross-boundary management of public and private lands. LSR funds will leverage state and local funds to expand technical assistance to private landowners in priority areas consistent with watershed plans by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.



Grantee: The Nature Conservancy

Federal investment: $197,778

Non-federal match: $197,890

Project Description: Treesilience 24:1 (T24) is a proactive forest resilience planning and planting program that scientifically identifies current and future forest restoration opportunities and “levels the planting field” by funding dead/dying tree removals on private property, restoring canopy through data-driven tree plantings and ensuring long-term tree survival through engagement with property owners. T24 also addresses the arboricultural labor shortage, lack of diversity in the industry and underemployment in St. Louis County.


New York

Grantee: The Nature Conservancy

Federal investment: $148,574

Non-federal match: $148,879

Project Description: The Nature Conservancy is proposing to significantly increase the number of acres under improved management by cooperating with several New York counties and partners to implement a new carbon project aggregation approach. This method more efficiently enrolls acreage in programs that improve forest management and carbon sequestration by combining multiple landowners and will ultimately provide opportunities for smaller landowners to participate in carbon markets.



Grantee: Holden Arboretum

Federal investment: $67,500

Non-federal match: $68,070

Project Description: The Holden Arboretum seeks to preserve and protect old growth forests, improve the ecological function of mature forests and accelerate the development of important functional features in young forests. The Holden Arboretum will utilize proven and innovative forest management techniques to accomplish these goals and address concerning shifts and changes in Ohio's forests by sharing knowledge gained through our experience.



Grantee: Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

Federal investment: $231,173

Non-federal match: $231,173

Project Description: Women forest landowners play a pivotal role in the future health and resiliency of Vermont's forests, yet many lack the skills, confidence and capacity to effectively engage in stewardship activities and decision-making. Building on the success of an established VT Women Owning Woodlands collaboration, this project uses an integrated approach of demonstration, training, resources and career development to empower women toward stewardship of Vermont’s forests. 



Grantee: Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

Federal investment: $179,878

Non-federal match: $179,878

Project Description: The threat of non-native invasive plants is now widely recognized as a landscape-scale priority issue in Vermont. This project will encourage collaborative, science-based restoration by establishing statewide invasive plant phenology monitoring and creating statewide landscape-scale population assessments and action. It will also work to restore priority forest landscapes by supporting community efforts through trainings and developing an invasive plant early detection/rapid response system.



Grantee: Glacierland Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc.

Federal investment: $263,450

Non-federal match: $274,000

Project Description: Glacierland Resource Conservation and Development Council, Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership and the Urban Wood Network will partner to mitigate impacts of emerald ash borer and restore resiliency to Wisconsin's coastal and shoreline forested landscapes. This project will leverage restoration efforts on municipal and non-profit lands in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties, and will incorporate urban wood-use strategies to exemplify the "trees first, wood next" movement in Wisconsin. Best management practices will be demonstrated for private landowners to implement. 


Multi-state (Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin)

Grantee: American Forest Foundation

Federal investment: $476,703

Non-federal match: $476,760

Project Description: Building on the outcomes from the 2018 Upland Oak Sustainability Landscape Scale Restoration project, notably the completion at the end of 2020 of an Upland Oak Assessment & Conservation Plan, this project will facilitate continued collaboration by the diverse array of organizations participating in the White Oak Initiative. This collaboration in states across the central hardwood range will foster shared learning and support oak restoration activities on the ground, ensuring a sustainable future for upland oak forests.


Multi-state (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont)

Grantee: North East State Foresters Association

Federal investment: $500,719

Non-federal match: $2,055,196

Project Description: A cooperative effort of the State Foresters of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont to secure as much of the private forest carbon in the northeast region as possible in a 3-year period. The focus is on working forestland carbon.  Each State Forester's office will have a forest carbon lead staffer and others will be trained as well in how to encourage private forest owners in the region to secure their forest carbon through carbon sales in the voluntary and compliance markets, conservation easements and through special management practices.


Multi-state (Illinois, Iowa)

Grantee: Trees Forever, Inc.

Federal investment: $386,010

Non-federal match: $656,250

Project Description: Trees Forever will plant trees to expand and diversify the community forests in rural towns across Iowa and Illinois. Planting more community trees will help the towns in this Midwest landscape deal with ever-present water quality and quantity issues, carbon emissions and loss of tree canopy from emerald ash borer. In particular, for this grant, Trees Forever will certify carbon credits from each tree planted and sell the associated credits to help communities fund ongoing tree maintenance and future tree plantings.


Multi-state (Massachusetts, New Hampshire)

Grantee: Merrimack River Watershed Council

Federal investment: $250,297

Non-federal match: $259,040

Project Description: As both forest fragmentation and climate change threaten the capacity of our riparian forests to protect source water in the Merrimack River Watershed, this project develops and implements a Resilient Riparian Forest Management approach. Through precision mapping, on-the-ground riparian restoration and education of private landowners and foresters, we will create a cost-effective, replicable model, and the connective tissue between stakeholders, to advance the two-state twin priorities of forest resilience and source water protection.


Multi-state (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia)

Grantee: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Federal investment: $280,852

Non-federal match: $280,852

Project Description: The Delmarva Woodland Stewards project accelerates peer-led outreach for private forest management and expands partnerships to share stewardship messages relevant to wildlife, wildfire risk reduction, water quality and wood production. It maps habitat opportunities on the tri-state area to guide 1,200 acres of stewardship plans and 250 acres of demo practices. Modernized delivery of wildlife practice information reaches over 3,000 landowners. It catalyzes policy changes for woody biomass markets and expands capacity for prescribed fire.


Multi-state and Tribal (Ho-Chunk Nation, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota, Wisconsin)

Grantee: The Nature Conservancy

Federal investment: $499,662

Non-federal match: $510,711

Project Description: This project will utilize prescribed fire to restore and maintain fire-dependent forests on state and private lands in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Fire-dependent forests across Minnesota and Wisconsin have suffered declining health, in part due to lack of fire. The Nature Conservancy will coordinate with partners to increase prescribed fire in five areas: Camp Ripley Sentinel Landscape in Minnesota; the Chippewa Plains of north-central Minnesota; the Driftless Area of southeast Minnesota and southwest Wisconsin; the Northwest Sands of Wisconsin; and the Central Sands of Wisconsin.


Multi-state (Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wisconsin, California, Georgia, Virginia)

Grantee: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Federal investment: $244,121

Non-federal match: $244,453

Project Description: The use of woody biomass for energy is important to the forest-based economies of many states, however biomass power plants struggle to remain in business and land managers need education on cost-effective and sustainable ways to reduce hazardous fuels and prepare harvest sites for replanting and to provide woody biomass for power. This multi-state project will increase understanding of biomass harvesting for healthy forests through a combination of field demonstration and education and an economic analysis of the biomass power industry across the Northeast and Midwest (and California, Georgia, and Virginia).