Forest Stewardship Program
If you are a woodland owner and would like to know more about your woodland and how to manage it, the Department of Conservation and Recreation's Forest Stewardship Program can help you. This educational non-regulatory program is designed to help landowners protect the inherent ecosystem values of their forest. Recognizing the public benefits of good stewardship on private forest land, the Massachusetts Forest Stewardship Program (MFSP) supports and encourages private forest landowners' efforts to manage, enjoy, and care for their land using a long-term approach.
To enroll in the Stewardship Program you will engage a licensed consulting forester to develop a 10-year forest management plan based on your goals. This Forest Stewardship Plan will help you understand the potential of your woodlands. It documents management options and practices designed to maintain the land in a productive and healthy condition for the next generation. Soil and water quality, wildlife and fish habitat, timber and other wood products, and outdoor recreation are among the many factors taken into account. It recommends actions that will protect or increase the environmental values of the land while yielding desired social or economic benefits. The benefits of your wise decisions and actions will extend far beyond the borders of your property!
The finished Stewardship Plan is presented to you in a 3-ring binder that contains a variety of supporting materials on pertinent topics (e.g. wildlife habitat management, timber harvesting regulations, websites for landowners, and estate planning.)
Who is eligible to participate?
Individuals, joint owners, groups and associations, non-profits, long term lease holders, and corporations without publicly traded stock are all eligible. Owners principally engaged in the primary processing of raw wood products are not eligible.
There is no minimum acreage, except that properties of less than 10 acres are not eligible for Forest Stewardship Plan preparation cost-sharing. Participating landowners may own a maximum of 1,000 acres, (or up to 5,000 acres with a special waiver).
Municipal governments are also encouraged to develop Stewardship Plans for their Town Forests or Conservation Commission woodlands, and may be eligible for cost-sharing. Contact the Stewardship Program office (413 256-1201) for information about criteria for town land eligibility.
Is Financial Assistance Available?
The wait is over! The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s
Forest Stewardship Program currently has funds available for preparing new stewardship
plans and upgrading existing plans for the purpose of enrolling in Green Certification.
Please see below for details:
Fiscal Year 2013 applications:
New Community Forest Stewardship Grants: The Massachusetts Forest Stewardship Program is now offering Community Forest Stewardship Grants . These are 50-50 matching reimbursement grants offered to municipalities that have town forest or water supply land enrolled in the Forest Stewardship Program.
The purpose of these grants is to aid communities in putting forest stewardship into practice and to help connect the local citizens to their forest and the benefits these forests provide—including a local source of wood products, clean water, biodiversity and wildlife habitat.
Funding for Community Forest Stewardship Grants is made possible through DCR’s Working Forest Initiative in cooperation with the Massachusetts Farm Bureau and Berkshire-Pioneer RC&D.
If you have any questions please contact Mike Downey, Forest Stewardship Coordinator, at (413) 442-8928 ext 135.
Other government agencies may from time to time offer financial assistance to landowners to do a variety of management activities on their land. For example, the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service recently offered an opportunity to sign up for cost share for forest management activities. Visit their website to find out about further opportunities:
Municipal Outreach Planning
What's the next step?
Contact Your Service Forester (1 800 783-2311) to ask questions about the Program and for advice on finding a licensed forester.
For more program details, download the Forest Stewardship Program brochure, “Making the Choice for Forest Stewardship” (pdf)
To see a sample Forest Stewardship Plan CLICK HERE.