U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities are now accepting applications for their Innovative Finance for National Forests (IFNF) Grant Program. The IFNF Program, launched in 2019, provides grants for projects that support the resilience of the National Forest System (NFS). This latest round of funding will focus on the following areas: Watershed Health, Sustainable Recreation Access and Infrastructure and Wildfire Resiliency and Recovery. Pilot Projects, Scaling Projects and Research and Development Projects are eligible for these grant funds. The IFNF team previously held two informational webinars regarding the program and proposals. Applications for 2021 due by Wednesday, June 30 and awardees will be announced in September. For more information on this year’s IFNF Request for Proposals, click here.
The IFNF grant program provides funding outside of USFS appropriations to support agency priorities, deliver measurable outcomes to stakeholders, like local governments, and incorporate lessons learned in agency management and decision making. During the first round of funding in 2019, The IFNF awarded $1.8 million in competitive grants. This second round of funding has $2 million available in competitive grants. Local governments are eligible to apply and there is a 20% minimum non-federal match requirement.
Counties play a key a role in forest management, as 61.6 percent of counties have federal lands within their boundaries. In March 2020, NACo and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) signed a renewed memorandum of understanding outlining priorities and expectations of both counties and the USFS. NACo and USFS also published a guidebook titled County Governments and the USDA Forest Service: A Guidebook for Working Together. Counties support efforts aimed to improve the health of the national forests, protect communities from the threat of wildfire and its aftermath and increase economic opportunities and recreational access on National Forest System lands.