The Department of Agriculture has just unveiled a groundbreaking initiative, offering a fresh $50 million round of funding to bolster economic development within the forestry sector, with a specific focus on benefiting Indian Country.

This substantial investment is part of a broader mission to “build a clean energy economy nationwide.” It aims to stimulate innovation, foster new markets for wood products and renewable wood energy, and expand processing capacity, as outlined in an official statement from the USDA.

What’s particularly exciting is that this opportunity is open to tribes and tribal entities. These grant investments will play a pivotal role in supporting forest-management projects designed to enhance forest health and reduce wildfire risks across various land ownerships.

Moreover, businesses that operate within or provide support to the forest products economy are eligible to apply for funding to expand their manufacturing capacity. These businesses are often vital employers in local communities, especially within tribal and rural areas, according to the USDA.

Cody Desaultel, President of the Intertribal Timber Council, underlines the significance of these grants as “new tools” for tribes to embark on transformative projects. This opportunity is even more valuable, given the programs’ preference for projects that promise positive environmental impacts.

“Funding for the wood products infrastructure grants gives priority to projects using products from tribal forestland and rangeland that have been identified as at high risk for fire, insect, or disease and a high priority for ecological restoration. Historically underserved communities, such as tribes, will also be given priority consideration,” Desaultel emphasized.

He encourages tribes from all regions to explore these opportunities and make the most of this resource.

For detailed information, including fact sheets, webinars on the application process, and the applications themselves, please visit [Insert Application Link Here].

The funding will be allocated through three Forest Service grant programs:

Wood Innovations Grant: This program invests in proposals that expand the usage of wood in energy and construction.

Community Wood Grant: It awards funding to shovel-ready community wood energy system projects or wood product facilities.

Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance Grant: This grant supports the expansion and rehabilitation of wood processing facilities to better accommodate ecosystem restoration projects and energy needs.

Key application deadlines are as follows:

Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance grant applications are due by December 1.

Wood Innovations and Community Wood grant applications are due by December 15.

In the words of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “A strong forest products economy contributes to healthier forests, vibrant communities, and jobs in rural areas.” This initiative aligns with President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, working towards robust rural economies by expanding markets for forest products through sustainable forest management, mitigating wildfire risks, combating climate change, and accelerating economic development.


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