"Some of the most extensive damage caused by the southern pine beetle is on privately held land," Ronald Corcory, DEP project manager for the suppression efforts, said. "It is critical to take action as soon as an infestation is spotted. These grants will help private landowners, municipalities and others reduce the effects and limit the spread of southern pine beetle by helping them pay for thinning, cutting and related suppression activities."
The state Forest Service is using $315,000 from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service grant program to fund three local grant programs to combat the southern pine beetle. They are:
* The Forest Health Southern Pine Beetle Cost-Share Grant Program provides matching grants up to $7,500 each to private landowners who own five or more acres of land. To be eligible, landowners must have a state-approved Forest Stewardship Plan or Woodland Management Plan that includes a southern pine beetle suppression plan. The landowner must provide 25 percent of the cost of the control activity.
* The Community Forestry Grant program provides a matching grant up to $5,000 each to assist municipalities and counties in delineating and carrying out southern pine beetle suppression activities. The recipient must have or be working on a Community Forestry Management Plan to qualify and must agree to provide an equal match in money or in-kind services.
* The state Forest Fire Service Community Wildfire Assistance Grant that provides 100 percent matching grants up to $10,000 each to any civic organization, homeowners association, nonprofit group or municipality for work to suppress southern pine beetle infestations on lands that may be at increased wildfire risk because of beetle damage. The fire risk must be documented in a Community Wildfire Protection Plan or a Firewise Community Plan. The recipient must provide an equal match in money and/or in-kind services.
For financial assistance applications, maps, photos and other resources about the southern pine beetle, visit:
For more information or to report possibly infested trees, contact the Forest Service Trenton Office at (609) 292-2531; Southern Regional Office at (609) 625-1124, Central Regional Office at (609) 726-1621, Northern Regional Office at (973) 786-5035, or your local consulting forester or a certified tree expert.
—TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM