The Nebraska Forest Service was recently awarded a combined total of $2.6 million from the federal government to support its programs and pay staff wages.
State Forester John Erixson said a large portion of the grant dollars will be used to support state and volunteer fire assistance. Forest Service staff work with fire departments across Nebraska to help them acquire firefighting equipment and aid their wildland fire training needs. The grant includes pass-through funds for rural fire districts and to landowners for managing forest fuels on their properties.
Rural forestry staff members help landowners with their tree needs, including planting conservation trees, harvesting timber, replanting lost trees and identifying tree problems such as invasive insects. Community forestry staff aid communities across the state when they need help with tree care and management.
The grants will also help provide reimbursement to Nebraskans for fuel management, forest thinning, forest restoration and the creation of defensible space.
The Nebraska Forest Service is currently working to expand into eastern parts of the state, and grants will play a role in making that possible.
“What we’re trying to do is expand into some of the eastern parts of the state to help landowners more where they’ve got too many trees in some places and they need to thin them out,” Erixson said. “That can be a rather expensive process sometimes.”
This funding is a consolidated grant payment comprised of about $1.5 million allocated from the federal forest service formula fund. The remainder was obtained through competitive funds. Nebraska competed against western states such as Colorado and Wyoming.