Announcement Part of Keynote Address at the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Network (SFLR) Annual Landowner Conference
BRUNSWICK, Ga., Aug. 29, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- On August 22, 2023, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Forest Service is making $150 million available from President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the largest climate investment in history, to assist previously underserved and small-acreage forest landowners connect to emerging voluntary climate markets. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement at the SFLR Annual Conference, themed Land, Legacy & Family: Celebrating a Decade of African American Land Protection.
Secretary Vilsack said that these markets can provide economic opportunities for landowners and incentivize improved forest health and management. The IRA funding builds on investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including the creation of competitive grants to non-federal forest landowners.
The investments address climate change while also supporting rural economies, maintaining land ownership for future generations, and protecting private forestlands from increasing development pressure.
"Healthy, resilient forests store carbon, provide critical habitat for wildlife, and grow forest resources that are the lifeblood of communities across the country," said Secretary Vilsack. "So much of our nation's forest land is privately owned, and, thanks to historic resources made possible by President Biden's Investing in America agenda, these landowners will have an opportunity to be part of the solution to the climate crisis, no matter their background and no matter their means."
"We were honored to have Secretary Vilsack as our keynote speaker and thrilled that he chose our conference to make this announcement. Our thanks to Secretary Vilsack and to the USDA, SFLR's partner from day one," said John K. Littles, Executive Director of McIntosh S.E.E.D, one of SFLR's eight anchor organizations and conference host.
From its inception, SFLR has improved forest management and forest retention by connecting African American landowners to established networks of forestry support, including federal and state government programs, businesses, and non-profit conservation, legal, community development, and Black social justice organizations.
In addition to McIntosh S.E.E.D., SFLR comprises seven other anchor organizations: The Black Family Land Trust, The Roanoke Center/Roanoke Cooperative, Center for Heirs Property Preservation, Limited Resource Landowner Education and Assistance Network (LRLEAN), Winston County Self-Help Cooperative, The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and Prairie View A&M University. The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities serves the SFLR network as its interim fiscal agent.