Verde Valley News – Grant applications are being accepted now by the Coconino Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) for forest health and restoration projects that can be funded under the authority of the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act.
The primary location for projects must be on federal lands within Coconino County, which includes the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests, and small sections of the Prescott and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. However, projects can also be on non-federal lands within Coconino County where it is clearly demonstrated that the project benefits resources on the national forests.
The Act authorizes grants to federal agencies, State and local governments, private and non-profit entities, and tribal governments for projects that improve the maintenance of existing infrastructure such as roads, trails, recreation facilities or projects that improve forest health and restore and improve land health and water quality.
Some examples of eligible projects include:
- Road, trail, and infrastructure maintenance or obliteration,
- Soil productivity improvement,
- Improvements in forest ecosystem health,
- Watershed and stream restoration and maintenance,
- Restoration, maintenance, and improvement of wildlife habitat,
- Control of noxious weeds,
- Re-establishment of native species.
Each project proposal will be evaluated on its cost-effectiveness, to what extent partners are involved, how the project improves the quality of human life including any employment opportunities, and how the project will improve watersheds and forest ecosystem health in general. The total amount to be dispersed by the committee includes approximately $500,000. The Act requires at least half of these funds to be used for projects that are “primarily dedicated to road maintenance, decommissioning, or obliteration; or to restoration of streams and watersheds.”
The Act allows RAC Title II funds to be used for the costs of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis, or for on-the-ground project implementation. All project proposals for on-the-ground project work need to be NEPA sufficient at the time of the proposal.
How to submit a proposal
Proponents should consult with the local District Ranger of which district the proposed project will take place prior to proposal submission. Proponents should download the Project Submission Form, complete, and email it to the Coconino RAC Coordinator, Brady Smith, at Brady.Smith@usda.gov no later than 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Sep. 5, 2022. Proposals received after that deadline will not be considered.
Hard copies can be submitted but must be received by the deadline mentioned. Mail hard copies to Coconino National Forest, Attn: RAC Coordinator Brady Smith, 1824 S. Thompson Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.
The RAC plans on meeting Sept. 29 to review proposals and make recommendations. An announcement of that public meeting with details, times, and location, will be published in the Federal Register and sent out via news release approximately two weeks prior to the meeting.
More information about the Secure Rural Schools Act and program can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/
For questions regarding the Coconino RAC, please contact RAC Coordinator Brady Smith at 928-310-6817 or by email at Brady.Smith@usda.gov.