Programs Supporting Landowners

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM)
RIDEM provides numerous services for the state and its citizens through each of its divisions. The Forest Environment Program offers forest fire protection, promotes public education projects, enforces department rules, helps to develop forest and wildlife management plans for private landowners, monitors for insects and disease, licenses arborists, and provides the following landowner assistance programs. See the RIDEM Division of the Forest Environment main page for more information.

Forest, Farm, and Open Space Program
This program aims to conserve the undeveloped land that provides benefits for us all by making it more affordable for landowners to own land. Properties enrolled in the program will be assessed at their current use instead of their development values, allowing landowners to afford the costs of property taxes and keep forests as forests. To apply under the forestland classification, you must own at least 10 acres of forestland that is actively managed to certain standards. Find out if you qualify for the FF&OS program using the following guide.
A Citizen’s Guide to the Farm, Forest, and Open Space Act

The Forest Legacy Program
The Forest Legacy Program is funded annually to provide conservation options for private, state, and local government landowners of 25 acres or more. Funds can be used to pay for conservation easements or for the acquisition of land that falls within the state-designated “Forest Legacy Area” (See Conservation Organizations to learn more about these options). These properties must also provide aesthetic, recreational, water quality, and habitat benefits. For more information about the Forest Legacy Program, visit RIDEM, or apply today.

Forest Stewardship Program
In cooperation with the USDA Forest Service, RI DEM offers the Forest Stewardship Program to “help landowners protect the inherent ecosystem values of their forest.” Educational materials and technical assistance are just two benefits of having your property enrolled in this program. Non-industrial forest owners are eligible to participate with the commitment to a 10-year written management plan. Although financial assistance is not available through the Forest Stewardship Program at this time, NRCS provides the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help develop Forest Stewardship plans and other related forestry activities. To learn more about your options with the Forest Stewardship Program, click here.

Urban and Community Forestry Program
Through this program, RIDEM licenses arborists, administers educational programs and events, and distributes grants relating to urban and community forestry. Click here for more information.

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
NRCS administers grants and assistance associated with the United States Farm Bill and other federal programs. The service focuses on resource conservation of all types, but is most commonly associated with soil and agriculture. Rhode Island NRCS can provide technical and financial assistance for conservation easements, forest management plans, and various land assessments, as detailed below. See Rhode Island NRCS for more information.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program
NRCS provides this incentive program to support owners of land in forest production, to develop a stewardship plan and meet environmental regulations. The program can pay for a portion of the costs associated with management, for eligible applicants. To learn more or apply, visit this NRCS web page.

Farm Bill – Conservation Stewardship Program
Under the Farm Bill, NRCS gives annual funding to participants who provide environmental benefits by improving or adopting new forest stewardship practices. These practices should aim to enhance soil, water, and air quality, as well as improve any related natural resources on the property. To see if you are eligible for the Conservation Stewardship Program, visit this NRCS web page and fill out the self-screening checklist.

Working Lands for Wildlife
This partnership between NRCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides technical and financial assistance to protect declining wildlife species. The program helps rural landowners sustain their operations while improving their land for the future. The New England Cottontail was identified as an eligible species of concern for this program in Rhode Island. Learn more about the program here.

Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA)
This program ensures technical assistance, information, and interpretation for landowners and organizations in order to comply with federal and state regulations. Advisory employees of NRCS can be reached at your local Rhode Island office. For more information, see this NRCS web page.

American Tree Farm Program
The Tree Farm program enrolls landowners who hold 10 acres or more, meet sustainable management criteria, and wish to certify their working woodland under a trusted name. Eighty-two thousand landowners are certified nationwide and share in the program’s educational network. While the program does not provide financial assistance, it helps landowners to promote sustainable forestry in their communities while recognizing their continued commitment to stewardship. For more information, visit the Rhode Island Tree Farm Program.

For assistance, see our Links page for a list of related organizations.