Applications for financial and technical assistance for interested St. Marks and Aucilla Basin property owners are now open. In 2021, Tall Timbers was awarded funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help provide both financial and technical assistance to St. Marks and Aucilla basin property owners in north Florida and south Georgia. This funding was awarded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), and after a successful year, has opened again for interested landowners.
This partner-driven effort leverages public and private funds to benefit natural resources on private lands and lasts for five years. The assistance will help landowners of non-industrial forestland in the St. Marks and Aucilla River Basins within Leon, Jefferson, Wakulla, Madison and Taylor Counties in Florida, and Brooks, Thomas and Grady Counties in Georgia. This includes efforts aimed at prescribed fire implementation, longleaf pine establishment, timber stand improvements, invasive plant treatment, and wildlife habitat improvement.
As part of a larger initiative project to protect these basins, Tall Timbers also partners with the Suwannee River Water Management District, Aucilla Research Institute, Apalachee Audubon Society, Wakulla Environmental Institute, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, and a number of individual private landowners in the Red Hills area to meet these goals.
Rebecca Armstrong, the RCPP Biologist with Tall Timbers, says this funding helps to preserve these areas’ beauty and importance, “The Aucilla and St. Marks watersheds contain some of the most unique and beautiful natural areas in Florida. So many landowners in the area are committed to managing and conserving their properties for future generations. We look forward to assisting even more landowners in achieving their stewardship goals through the RCPP program.”
Interested parties in Florida can submit their application by September 30, 2022 to obtain this funding. Georgia landowners in the watershed areas must submit their applications by November 4, 2022. Tall Timbers staff members are eager to meet with interested landowners to discuss their specific needs, determine property conditions, offer guidance on completing the RCPP application process and provide advice as needed.
Applications will be evaluated for funding based on local, state, and nationally developed criteria for optimizing environmental benefits. Landowners ranking highest in a funding category will receive funding according to priority and are subject to the availability of program funds. While funding decisions come directly from NRCS, Tall Timbers staff plan to work with landowners closely from the application period through project implementation to earn any needed funding.
Peter Kleinhenz, the Partnerships Program Coordinator for Tall Timbers, says, “It has been remarkable to see the interest in land management activities like prescribed burning and longleaf pine planting among landowners in our project area. The Tall Timbers RCPP team looks forward to working with even more landowners this cycle to get land management implemented that will improve our landscapes for people and wildlife.”
Private landowners or agricultural producers interested in receiving RCPP funding and getting involved with this project can contact Tyler Macmillan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Peter Kleinhenz at email@example.com.