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Article #80, February, 2004  
By Bill Cook

     The Forest Land Enhancement Program (FLEP) is a brand-new federal cost-share opportunity for family forest owners, authorized under the 2002 Farm Bill.  It replaces the Forestry Incentives Program (FIP) and the Stewardship Incentives Program (SIP).  I suppose you could say that FLEP has done a flip-flop with FIP and SIP.  Now, there is a mouthful of acronyms!

     The bottom-line means that there are fresh forest management incentive dollars available for forest owners in Michigan, and it has been awhile.  The Forest Stewardship Advisory Committee has developed a set of criteria and a point system to evaluate applications.  Highest priorities for 2004-2005 are:  management plan development (FLEP 1), forest stand improvement practices (FLEP 3), and forest health and protection (FLEP 7).  Other potential funding categories include:  water quality improvement, watershed protection, wildfire and catastrophic event rehabilitation, afforestation and reforestation, and fish and wildlife habitat improvement.  Cost-sharing for invasive species control cannot be offered until the 2005-2006 cycle.  The worksheet used to score applications reflects both state and federal priorities.

     How do you apply?

     In the Upper Peninsula, an application can be obtained from Michigan DNR offices in Baraga (1- 906-353-6651), Escanaba (1-906-786-2351 x20), Marquette (1-906-228-6561, and Newberry (906-293-5131).  You can also call Deb Huff in Lansing at 1-517-335-3355.  Remember to also ask for the “fact sheet” which will help outline the program.  FLEP is a reasonably comprehensive program.  The first 2004 application deadline is 1 March, but applications are taken at any time and quarterly deadlines are planned.  Lastly, you will need to have a DNR-approved forest management plan to be eligible. 

      If your application scores well, a one-year contract will be offered and 65 percent of the implementation costs will be paid for by the program, within limits set forth in the State Handbook.  Contract holders will need to keep receipts and records.  In some cases, your own labor can be billed for, at $15 per hour.  Practices already done or underway will not be considered, and they must be part of the forest management plan. 

      What are some examples of the high priority practices?

     FLEP 1 is forest management plan development.  A plan must include a natural resource assessment, state goals and objectives, provide a long-term outlook, contain maps, and make management recommendations.  A plan from the Forest Stewardship Program will qualify.  Many other plans will qualify, too, but must be approved by the DNR.

     FLEP 3 is forest stand improvement, which includes practices that enhance the growth and value of timber and non-timber forest products.  Sample practices would be the release of crop trees, timber stand improvement thinning, pruning, etc.  Practices in Christmas tree plantations and tree nurseries are not eligible. 

     FLEP 7 involves forest health practices, especially certain oak wilt controls and the eradication of problem Scotch pine. 

     The Forest Land Enhancement Program has a number of other aspects applicants will want to be aware of.  If you are interested, the best bet is to obtain an application and fact sheet, look them over, then have a conversation with one of the DNR Service Foresters. 

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Bill Cook is an MSU Extension forester providing educational programming for the entire Upper Peninsula. His office is located at the MSU Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center near Escanaba. The Center is the headquarters for three MSU Forestry properties in the U.P., with a combined area of about 8,000 acres. He can be reached at cookwi@msu.edu or 906-786-1575.

Prepared by Bill Cook, Forester/Biologist, Michigan State University Extension, 6005 J Road, Escanaba, MI  49829
906-786-1575 (voice),  906-786-9370 (fax),  e-mail:  cookwi@msu.edu

Use / reprinting of these articles is encouraged. Please notify Bill Cook.
By-line should read "Bill Cook, MSU Extension" Please use the article trailer whenever possible.

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