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USDA Offers Free Forest Assessments to Some Private Landowners

Free assessments are available to private landowners in four Oregon counties. (Bureau of Land Management/Wikimedia Commons)
Free assessments are available to private landowners in four Oregon counties. (Bureau of Land Management/Wikimedia Commons)
March 23, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - Private landowners in northwest Oregon can apply to receive a free assessment of their forest land from the Natural Resource Conservation Service or NRCS, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture.

The free assessment includes gauging the health of the forest land and the value of a carbon-crediting program for landowners.

Dean Moberg, basin resource conservationist for the NRCS, says the most important aspect of the program is developing a plan for forest management.

"Also doing a really precise inventory of the amount of carbon that's stored in the trees out there now," says Moberg. "And the extra carbon that might be stored if the forest owners adapted their management in certain ways."

Private, non-commercial landowners have until April 15 to apply for a free assessment.

The NRCS is partnering with the Pinchot Institute for Conservation to help provide landowners with information on carbon crediting programs.

This is the second year of a five-year project, which has nearly $2 million of funding at its disposal.

During this year's session, Oregon legislators did not consider a bill that would have created a carbon cap-and-trade program in the state.

However, Brian Kittler western regional office director of the Pinchot Institute, says that doesn't necessarily mean Oregonians can't profit from the cap-and-trade program in California.

"It is a steady market," says Kittler. "There is some real dollars there. And if it fits within their long-term objectives of owning and managing their land, then it's a viable option for them to consider."

Assessments are available for landowners in Columbia, Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.

Eric Tegethoff/Judy Steffes, Public News Service - OR