Concord, NH…The Northern Forest Alliance today expressed its enthusiastic support for the vote taken by Congressman Hodes and Congresswoman Shea-Porter in favor of the renewal of the Farm Bill that includes unprecedented funding for programs that will benefit people in the Granite State.
“The Farm Bill that passed the US House today provides more opportunities for New Hampshire and the entire Northern Forest region than any previous Farm Bill passed by Congress,” said Bruce Clendenning, Interim Policy Director of the Northern Forest Alliance. “We’re greatly encouraged that after years of hard work, our delegation was able to ensure passage of a Bill that includes critical support for programs that benefit forestry, land conservation, economic development, and enhanced opportunities for clean energy.”
“We are very excited about the passage of the Farm Bill through the House and enthusiastically thank Representatives Hodes and Shea-Porter for their vote in support of New Hampshire’s communities and forests,” said George Gay, the Executive Director of the Northern Forest Alliance. “We encourage Senators Gregg and Sununu to support the Farm Bill when they have the opportunity and sincerely hope that the President will sign this bill into law.”
The Farm Bill passed by the US House today includes increased support for forestry programs that support good stewardship of the region’s forest base and new programs that provide significant opportunities for communities to chart a new more vibrant path for the future.
Thanks to the leadership of the Northern Forest delegation and strong support from the Northern Forest Alliance and other community groups, the Farm Bill contains new programs for community-led forest conservation and enhanced use of biomass energy at the community scale. The new Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program will provide 50-50 matching grants to help communities acquire important forest lands that are threatened by development.
The Farm Bill incorporates the Northern Border Development Act creating the Northern Border Economic Development Commission (“the Commission”), which will consist of the Governors of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and New York and a federal government designee. The Commission will use a bottom-up approachto provide grants for economic development projects, productive natural resource conservation, technical assistance to the forest products industry,alternative energy projects, job training, infrastructure improvements, land conservation, and other similar projects.
The new Community Wood Energy Program will provide matching grants and technical assistance to help communities shift heating and power for local schools and other public buildings from fossil-fuel based systems to wood chip and biomass systems. The program will help communities develop a “community wood energy plan” to identify how the new biomass systems can be fueled by local lands and the local forest products industry, keeping more resources in local communities and reducing their carbon impact.
The Farm Bill provides additional new support for private forest landowners and communities through a new process to develop national priorities for forest conservation that will inform state-by state forest plans to address these priorities. The plans will help the U.S. Forest Service and our state forestry agencies better deliver support to landowners and communities through the Forest Stewardship Program, Urban and CommunityForestry Program, cooperative extension forestry programs, and others. The technical assistance and access to funding provided by these dedicated professionals is an essential tool for private landowners and municipalities to meet their stewardship and conservation goals.
The Farm Bill also provides increased funding to help private landowners and municipalities manage their land through programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and Healthy Forest Reserve Program.
The Northern Forest Alliance is a coalition of conservation, recreation, and forestry organizations united in their commitment to protect the Northern Forest of Maine, New Hampshire,Vermont, and New York. We work together to protect and enhance the ecological and economic sustainability of natural and human communities in the Northern Forest. For more information, please visit www.northernforestalliance.org.