Home USDA funding available for landowners of riparian forest projects in Virginia
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USDA funding available for landowners of riparian forest projects in Virginia

Rebecca Barnabi
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The Virginia Department of Forestry has issued a request for proposal for Riparian Forests for Landowners Program project funding.

RFFL is DOF’s new statewide, flexible landowner assistance program that helps landowners meet riparian forest buffer needs and fill gaps in assistance not supplied by other programs. DOF seeks partnerships with qualified service providers in carrying out RFFL. Selected service providers will foster landowner connections to facilitate the installation of, and one year of maintenance on, riparian forest buffers at no cost to the landowner.

Riparian forest buffers are areas near streams, lakes or wetlands that contain a combination of trees, shrubs and other perennial plants, primarily to provide conservation benefits. Riparian forest buffers deliver a number of benefits including filtering nutrients, pesticides and animal waste from agricultural land runoff, filtering sediment from runoff, stabilizing eroding banks, providing shade, shelter and food for fish and other aquatic organisms, and providing wildlife habitat for terrestrial organisms.

The program is federally funded via the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the Virginia State Water Quality Improvement Act. The deadline for submission is 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 15, 2024 via eVA. Registration in eVA is necessary and the application process is also available online.

Each proposal should include only one river basin. Proposals for partial river basin are acceptable, but specification of the area of coverage is necessary in the application. Half of the available funding must be used on lands identified as underserved by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool.

A pre-bid virtual meeting will be held on Microsoft Teams on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024 at 3 p.m. Questions about meetings should be directed to DOF Procurement Officer Thomas Baumann at [email protected].

Virtual meetings are available:

Friday, January 12 at 3 p.m.
Teams link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/join-a-meeting?rtc=1
Meeting ID: 250 038 165 68
Passcode: 4PsFn3

Monday, January 22 at 11 a.m.
Meeting details and instructions are included as an attachment to the solicitation on eVA.
Teams link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/join-a-meeting?rtc=1
Meeting ID: 236 755 211 060
Passcode: QCYZjD

You can protect water quality at no upfront cost by participating in the RFFL program. Participants may be private landowners, homeowner associations or civic leagues. The program does not require prerequisites to participate. Eligibility requires the need for a riparian buffer and a commitment to keep it in place for 15 years. Land may be rural, urban or suburban, be activity-farmed or not.

In spring 2024, the RFFL program will accept landowner inquiries for assistance through the DOF website. In the meantime, Program Coordinator Deya Ramsden ([email protected]), is available for more information.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.