Help for woodland owners in 5 counties

Woodland owners in Hertford, Bertie, Gates, Northampton and Halifax counties may be eligible for financial and professional help managing their forests. Three federal agencies recently selected Roanoke Electric Cooperative's Roanoke Center to administer the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program. As a pilot site, the co-op received a $425,000 grant to help minority forestland owners manage their property and generate income.

Roanoke Electric's CEO Curtis Wynn said, "We will assist landowners in planning and implementing forest management activities, including sustainable harvest of timber and non-timber forest products to increase forest-based revenues." He added that the program will help landowners to clear heirs' property status and work to enroll lands in conservation programs. The plan also is to explore new forest product markets, including biomass, biofuels and ecosystem services.

At least 150 moderate- to low-income landowners can learn about sustainable forestry and management plans to increase forest income streams.

Congressman G.K. Butterfield noted that, "This is not a giveaway. This is an investment in families, an investment in the very fabric and fiber of the community." He also noted past injustices related to federal agencies and African American landowners in the region.

Interested woodland owners may contact The Roanoke Center in Rich Square at (252) 539-4600. Roanokecenter.org

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