US Forest Service Grants—what are they, and how can one obtain them?
by John Kelley
The United States Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages 193,000,000 acres of land—an area about 10% larger than the entire state of Texas. USFS desires to see our timber resources better utilized and managed. To further this goal, they are willing to back projects with grant funds.
There are four relevant USFS grant programs:
Community Wood Grant: funds grants either to install thermally led community wood energy systems, or to build innovative wood product manufacturing facilities. USFS expects the wood energy systems to use the most stringent control technologies, and emphasizes helping sawmills in economically challenged areas to upgrade technology. The Beck Group (BECK) recently assisted a major client in obtaining a $1 million CWG.
Wood Innovation Grant: funds grants that develop new ways to produce and sell wood products that enable better long-term forest management. BECK has directly obtained Wood Innovation Grant funds or used funds obtained by others to help numerous forest products manufacturers strategically upgrade their operations.
Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance: The full name is enormous, and continues: “to Facilities that Purchase and Process Byproducts of Ecosystem Restoration Products.” This is a new program to help sawmills near Federal or Indian lands assist in ecosystem restoration that generates byproducts; the idea is to help restore fire- and insect-damaged lands. BECK is highly qualified to assist with such applications, including development of plans to utilize the funding in the most effective ways.
Community Wildfire Defense Grant: funds projects to help at-risk communities and Tribal entities take wildfire risk reduction actions. This entails development and implementation of protection plans, enforcement of applicable codes, and risk assessment training. Low-income and recently impacted communities have priority consideration. BECK has extensive contacts and experience to help applicants maximize their chances of success—and to optimize the use of grant funds.
The USFS is organized into ten administrative regions. Each region has a grant coordinator to assist applicants. The grants are awarded competitively. For the best chance of receiving funding, it is important that applicants select the grant program whose objectives most closely align with their project. Perhaps more importantly, the grant proposal narrative must clearly tell the story of how their project fits with the USFS grant program objectives. As described above, BECK has been directly awarded several of these grants; we have helped numerous clients successfully apply for the grants, and we have done consulting work funded by grant dollars. If you are thinking of applying for a USFS grant, but don’t know where to start, please contact us at email@example.com. Your query will be forwarded to our consulting team, and the most appropriate forest products professional will respond.
Another option for learning more about the USFS grant programs is coming up soon. BECK is presenting a three-day sawmill management training workshop December 5-7, 2023 at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon. At this event, a USFS spokesperson will offer a presentation about the grant programs and how they can help build wood products utilization infrastructure at new and existing forest products manufacturing operations. There could hardly be a better opportunity to prepare for the proper grant process. Event details can be found at https://www.beckgroupconsulting.com/training
Below is a brief comparison of the grant options in table format. More information is available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/science-technology/energy-forest-products/wood-innovation