A Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) agreement between the USDA Forest Service and the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) is allowing the agencies to work together across boundaries. Thanks to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the Farm Bill, the state’s top national and state forest agencies can collaborate and perform watershed restoration and forest management services on the Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega and Tuskegee National Forests.
Alabama’s USDA Forest Service Acting Supervisor Anthony Edwards and Alabama State Forester Rick Oates recently signed a GNA supplemental project agreement that authorizes AFC to be responsible for preparing and administering a timber sale on the Talladega National Forest, Oakmulgee Ranger District that traditionally is managed by the Forest Service.
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 has provisions that expands the GNA to include counties and tribes and permits States to keep a portion of receipts from GNA timber sales for other restoration and active management work.
“Our partnership will help maintain and improve the health and resilience of forests,” said Anthony Edwards, acting forest supervisor for the National Forests in Alabama. According to Edwards, one important aspect of the partnership involves the longleaf and shortleaf pine restoration goals to re-establish native pine ecosystems. “Working together with the Alabama Forestry Commission and other partners, we will develop and demonstrate successful reforestation methods and encourage their use by private landowners,” said Edwards.
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to partner with the USDA Forest Service on this Good Neighbor Authority agreement,” said Rick Oates, State Forester. “Everyone wins when federal and state agencies join forces on a project,” he continued. “Joint efforts such as this help us more effectively manage and protect our forests while serving the citizens of Alabama.”
Forest management specialists can collaborate on forest and watershed restoration services including activities to treat insect and disease infected trees; reduce hazardous fuels; re-establish native pine ecosystems and any other activities to restore or improve, or market forest, and improve fish and wildlife habit.
Pictured: (Sitting Left to Right): AFC State Forester Rick Oates and USDA Forest Service Acting Forest Supervisor Anthony Edwards. (Standing Left to Right): Will Brantley, AFC Forest Management Division Director; David Kelley, AFC State Lands Coordinator; and Gary Faulkner, AFC Economic Development Coordinator.
Alabama Forestry Commission: The mission of the Alabama Forestry Commission is to protect and sustain Alabama’s forest resources using professionally applied stewardship principles and education, ensuring that the state’s forests contribute to abundant timber and wildlife, clean air and water, and a healthy economy. For more information about the fire situation in your area or any other forestry related issues, contact your local Alabama Forestry Commission office or visit the AFC website at forestry.alabama.gov.
USDA Forest Service, National Forests in Alabama: National Forests are working forests where you can expect to see controlled burns, tree thinning, tree planting and other management activities throughout the year. The projects are focused on maintaining the health and resilience of national forests while at the same time providing products and services to the public. fs.usda.gov.