2012 Award Winners

Irene Spencer, Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife

Irene played a lead role in the development of the “Collaboration on Forestry Related Program Delivery in Hawaii” Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NRCS, USDA Forest Service, Hawaii Association of Conservation Districts, and the State’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. Since the MOU was signed in 2011, the partners have significantly improved their communication and interaction with each other and coordinated the delivery of several landowner assistance programs in Hawaii. This partnership significantly streamlined the process for landowners to access forestry assistance funding, while simultaneously improving the collaboration among agencies and efficiency of programs.

Through a grant written by Irene, the Hawaii MOU partners will receive $250,000 in 2013 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to assist in planning, outreach, and contracting for forestry projects. Two full-time employees will be hired to increase the number of Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program projects, complete more NRCS conservation plans, strengthen interaction with partner agencies, and support funding to private landowners to improve the
sustainable management of Hawaii’s forest resources.

Canada Great Plains Windbreak Renovation and Innovation Conference Planning Team

This first-of-its-kind conference was planned by employees from the USDA Forest Service, NRCS, three State Forestry Agencies, Conservation Districts, and Canada’s Agroforestry Development Centre. The team worked over 6 months to plan a conference that consisted of scientists, natural resource professionals, and landowners who came together to share their knowledge and experience about windbreaks. From Texas to Alberta, windbreaks continue to be a vital agroforestry practice that can help producers and landowners improve their productivity and profitability while conserving the natural resources on which agriculture depends. The goal of the conference was to improve management of existing windbreaks and the inclusion of innovative design elements into new ones that will meet or exceed landowner expectations and provide numerous public benefits.

The conference included an excellent field tour that allowed participants to see first-hand windbreak technologies and innovations. The conference was attended by a diverse group of 85 participants from 3 provinces, 11 States, and 35 remote participants. The success of the Great Plains Windbreak Renovation and Innovation Conference has established a blue print for future conferences of this type. Due to the success and broader interest generated by the 2012
conference, the Planning Team is currently planning similar conferences in 2013 in the southern Great Plains and Alberta.

Chesapeake Bay Forest Restoration Strategy Team

During 2011-2012, the USDA Forest Service coordinated teams with over 60 representatives from 30 Federal, State, and nongovernmental organizations to draft a strategy for the Chesapeake Bay area. The Strategy provides a roadmap to guide and expand forestry partnership efforts in the years ahead. The Strategy was endorsed by the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership and officially released on December 5, 2012, in a signing ceremony with USDA Forest Service Chief Thomas L. Tidwell, Chesapeake Bay Program Director Nick DiPasquale, and State Foresters from the Bay jurisdictions.

Collaboration in these efforts will accelerate forest restoration in priority areas, with a focus on urban and community forestry, wildlife and fisheries habitat, agroforestry, mined lands, and contaminated lands.

Connecticut Joint Forestry Team

The Team was established with the signing of a MOU in 2009, followed by a continuing focus on implementation. Since the signing of the MOU, the State has been successful in increasing the amount of assistance provided to Connecticut landowners through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for forest management plans, forest health treatments, tree planting, and reforestation activities. In 2011, Connecticut received national recognition in the American Forest Foundation’s new Forest in the Farm Bill Progress Report for increasing its funding dedicated to forest practices from 0.25 percent to 14.64 percent.

In addition to improving the implementation ofEQIP in the State, the Team successfully implemented five NRCS contribution agreements that include Resource Conservation and Development Councils, Connecticut Wildlife Division, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. These agreements assisted with the development of the Connecticut forests landowner database, landowner outreach and demonstrations to promote woodland and wildlife management, and the establishment of a Strategic Watershed Action Team which supported outreach, education, and forest mapping and inventories. The group worked together to increase the number of forestry-qualified Technical Service Providers (TSP).