Mississippi has approximately 19.2 million acres of forestland scattered across the state. Of those 19.2 million acres of forests, almost 80 percent is privately owned by individuals.
There are a multitude of reasons why Mississippians use their forestland. From additional income to wildlife habitat to simple aesthetic value, landowners want to make the most of their property.
The problem many landowners face is what to do to achieve their goals and where to turn for help.
“Part of the mission of the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) is to provide active leadership in forest management,” said Russell Bozeman, MFC state forester. “One of our primary objectives is to help private landowners reach their goals when it comes to managing their forestland.”
The MFC offers a variety of services, programs and resources to non-industrial private landowners.
One of the most beneficial programs to landowners is Mississippi’s Forest Resource Development Program (FRDP). Established by the Mississippi Legislature in 1974, the FRDP was created to aid in the development of Mississippi’s forest-based economy. The MFC administers the program and provides technical assistance to participants.
The FRDP provides cost-share assistance to eligible landowners for establishing and improving a crop of trees. The program helps offset expenses by sharing the cost of implementing specific forestry practices designed to produce timber and enhance wildlife habitats.
“The FRDP can cover up to 75 percent of the total cost of implementing one or more practices,” Bozeman said. “Eligible landowners can receive up to $7,000 (now $10,000) of FRDP assistance per year.”
FRDP assistance is available to landowners in Mississippi who own at least 10 acres of manageable forestland. Landowners who participate in the FRDP must agree to protect the area receiving assistance from fire and grazing and to properly manage the area for a minimum of 10 years.
Some of the forestry practices covered by the FRDP are:
- Tree planting
- Site preparation
- Fire lane creation and maintenance
- Pre-commercial thinning
“The Forest Resource Development Program is a great program for landowners to offset costs associated with managing their forestland to achieve their goals,” said Bozeman.