What is the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project?
This is a program that is designed to address forestry land loss in the African-American community. The focus of this project is to demonstrate that through the use of sustainable forest management with the support of governmental and private natural resource agencies and organizations, and the regional timber industry, African-American landowners are able to retain their lands, generate income, and maintain healthy and productive forests for generations.
Is this program for African Americans only?
Although the project focus is to reach African-American landowners, the project is available to all landowners in 13 counties: Bertie, Chowan, Edgecombe, Gates, Granville, Halifax, Hertford, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Perquimans, Vance and Warren.
Who administers this program?
The project is being administered through the Roanoke Center also know as Roanoke Economic Development Incorporated (REDI) in Rich Square NC, which is a non-profit subsidiary of the Roanoke Electric Cooperative.
Where does the money for this project come from?
This project is funded by grants from the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the American Forest Foundation. Supporting partners are the USDA Forest Service, The Conservation Fund, NC Forest Service, NC Department of Agriculture, CoBank, NC Tree Farm Program, Ag Carolina Farm Credit, and AgFirst Farm Credit.
What is the benefit to landowners in participating in this project?
Landowners will gain valuable knowledge on what assistance is available to those who own forestland. Other benefits include:
- Engaging with state, federal, and county agencies to receive technical assistance on forest management.
- Receiving education on private forestry professionals who can assist with timber sales and learning how the use of these private foresters will ensure landowners receive fair market value for their timber products.
- Promotion of forestland, family legacy and healthy and productive forests with many financial, environmental, and social benefits which can be sustained for generations.
- Learning about federal and county property tax reductions due to deferments associated with forest management.
- Being eligible for financial assistance in obtaining legal services from an attorney to clear property title, establish a legal mechanism such as a limited liability company
(LLC) or partnership, etc., to manage family-owned property, resolve heirs’ property issues and/or create an estate plan to provide for orderly succession or transfer of property upon one’s passing.
What are the requirements to participate in the project?
You must be a landowner in Bertie, Chowan, Edgecombe, Gates, Granville, Halifax, Hertford, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Perquimans, Vance or Warren County. Your property must contain at least one area with a minimum of 8 acres of forestland.
How do I get into the project and is there a cost to participate in the project?
Landowners can get details about the project by calling 252-539-4614 or email Director Alton Perry, email@example.com or Administrative Assistant Sherwynn Best, firstname.lastname@example.org There is no project registration fee or fee to participate in the project. However, there are costs associated with forest management for which you may receive financial assistance from various agency funds. Examples are costs to develop forest management plans and reforestation costs to establish the next forest after a tree harvest. These costs are not paid to the project but to an agency or private contractor for services provided.
Can I be a participant in the project as an heir’s property landowner if the other property heirs don’t sign up?
Yes, one heir may enroll the property into the project and serve as the point of contact while providing other heirs information about project assistance, and scheduled meetings with project staff and agency partners.
What is the Legal Assistance Costs Reimbursement component?
The Legal Assistance Costs Reimbursement component is a part of the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project that provides grant funded reimbursement to project participants who acquire legal services, as needed, through local attorneys to address land ownership issues and/or to develop estate plans to provide for orderly succession or transfer of property.
How much financial assistance can I receive to address estate planning?
A project participant can receive a maximum of $1,000 for fees associated with an attorney or other consultant providing land retention services.
Can the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project assist me if my property contains agriculture?
Properties that contain both forestland and agriculture land, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can provide technical assistance to address conservation practices on agriculture land. If the entire property is agriculture land, you will be referred to NRCS for assistance. Unless, your objective is to convert the agriculture land to forestland, therefore, you can enroll into the project and receive full assistance as a project participant.
Does the Sustainable Forestry Project provide any financial assistance to plant trees?
The project will guide landowners to apply for financial assistance programs for replanting trees through state and federal agencies. The project also offers financial assistance to project landowners for tree planting and other reforestation practices when funding is available. Landowners can only accept financial assistance from one agency or the project, but not both.
I own less than 8 acres of forestland; can I participate in the project?
Landowners with less than 8 acres of forestland cannot participate as full participants but are provided guidance about forest management and may participate in general discussions with project personnel about forestry land succession. Such landowners are referred to available partner agencies for any available assistance.
Does signing the Memorandum of Agreement in any way subject the landowner to transferring or losing their property ownership to The Roanoke Center or Roanoke Electric Cooperative?
No, signing the Memorandum of Agreement and participating in the project in no way subjects the landowner to land transfer or land loss to The Roanoke Center or partner agencies.
If the project ends while I am participating, will I continue to receive assistance?
Yes, landowners that have been approved for services or financial assistance through the project will receive the designated assistance that has been reserved for them. When the project ends, The Roanoke Center will continue to serve as a regional resource to provide landowners with information on forestry lands and refer landowners to the appropriate agencies and private forestry businesses for assistance.
What is the benefit between landowners in the project and the local timber industry?
This area has a robust forest industry with several timber companies in the area, along with many commercial and private businesses that support the forestry industry. To sustain this industry there must be a continuous supply of timber. Here in Northeastern North Carolina private forest landowners supply timber to the timber industry. This project enables the timber industry to expand its timber supply through private landowners growing productive forests for the future. The forestry industry and the supporting commercial and private businesses provide jobs and economic growth for the region.
Why is it necessary to complete a W-9 and a 1099 miscellaneous form to participate in the project?
Landowners, who participate in the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Program and receive financial assistance for forestry practices and/or legal assistance cost reimbursement, are required to complete IRS form W-9 before any payments are issued. In order to comply with reporting requirements issued by the IRS, Roanoke Economic Development, Inc. is required to issue IRS form 1099-MISC to any landowner receiving more than $600 during any year from the program. Please consult your CPA or tax preparer in reference to filing miscellaneous income.
Can I network with other landowners participating in the project?
Yes, we encourage landowners to network to share their experiences, and ideas, with each other and provide peer-to-peer guidance in the process of forest and agriculture management. Project staff are developing a landowner network within the project to be named Landowner Education, Assistance, and Retention Network (LEARN). LEARN will be a landowner lead network where landowners can meet, share ideas, discuss issues of concerns, and advocate for policy change in conservation.