Cost Share & Incentive Programs

An incentive program is a great tool for managing a working forest. Incentives come in the form of cost share payments, annual payments, and/or easement values that serve to offset the initial cost of what is usually a long term forestry investment. The following information provides an overview of incentive programs available to Georgia landowners.

Southern Pine Beetle Cost Share Program (SPB)

  • Eligibility: Non-industrial landowners, which means any private individual, group, association, corporation, Indian tribe or other native group, other private legal entity, excluding corporations whose stocks are publicly traded or legal entities principally engaged in the processing or manufacturing of wood products. Minimum practice size is 10 acres.
  • Forestry Practices Covered: Includes non-commercial thinning, pine release, prescribed burning, southern pine beetle control, reforestation site preparation, hardwood planting, and pine planting (longleaf, loblolly, slash, shortleaf, and white). The actual practices funded depend on the funding year and the amount of funds received.
  • Pay Rate: A per acre pay rate based on 40% of the average cost of the practice. Pay rates cannot exceed 75% of the documented, actual cost.
  • Contract Length: A period of ten (10) years unless practice is so noted on the SPBPRS Resource Practice Plan that a lesser number of years are determined for maintenance.
  • Application Process: This program is administered by the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) with US Forest Service funds. To apply contact your local GFC Forester.

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

  • Eligibility: The land must be either cropland (including field margins) that was planted or considered planted to an agricultural commodity 4 of the previous 6 crop years from 2002 to 2007, and which is physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity; or certain marginal pastureland that is suitable for use as a riparian buffer or for similar water quality purposes. The producer must have owned or operated the land for at least 12 months prior to close of the CRP sign-up period, unless: The new owner acquired the land due to the previous owner's death; The ownership change occurred due to foreclosure where the owner exercised a timely right or redemption in accordance with state law; or The circumstances of the acquisition present adequate assurance to FSA that the new owner did not require the land for the purpose of placing it in CRP.
  • Forestry Practices Covered: Pine and hardwood planting, thinning, prescribed burning, native grass planting, permanent wildlife habitat establishment, riparian buffers, field borders, filter strips and wildlife opening establishment.
  • Pay Rate: General Signup (tree planting with timber objective) - Landowner receives up to a 50% flat rate cost share for eligible costs + annual per acre rental payments. Continuous Signup (longleaf planting and pine management with wildlife objective) - Landowner receives a signup incentive payment of $100 per acre upfront + a onetime practice incentive payment of 40% of the eligible installation costs + up to 50% flat rate cost share for eligible costs + annual per acre rental payments.
  • Contract Length: 10 - 15 years
  • Application Process: General signups are announced and applications can be made for a set period of time. Continuous signups are not competitive and applications are accepted at any time. To apply contact the Farm Service Agency at your local USDA Service Center.

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

  • Eligibility: CSP is available to all producers, regardless of operation size or crops produced. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, and nonindustrial private forest land. Forest/woodland must be: "green certified" by the Tree Farm System, Green Tag, Smart Wood, Forest Stewardship Council, or Sustainable Forestry Initiative; managed according to a written forest management plan or stewardship plan with one or more improvements being made to the forest/woodland in the past 10 years; managed with no apparent erosion on harvested or burned areas, roads, skid trails and landings; managed with native trees appropriately stocked on the property (except temporarily for areas being reforested) and wildfire risk (in wildfire-prone areas) is minimized by strategically placed firebreaks.
  • Forestry Practices Covered: Practices that help conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land.
  • Pay Rate: CSP provides participants with an annual payment for installing new conservation practices and maintaining existing activities. A supplemental payment may be earned for adopting a resource-conserving crop rotation.
  • Contract Length: 5 years
  • Application Process: The USDA Natural Conservation Resource Service (NRCS) makes CSP available on a nationwide basis through continuous sign-up, with announced cut-off dates for ranking and funding applications. Applications are evaluated and ranked and producers get credit both for conservation measures they have already implemented and for new measures they agree to add. Potential applicants are encouraged to determine whether CSP is the right program for them by completing the self-screening checklist at To apply contact the NRCS office at your local USDA Service Center.

Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP)

  • Eligibility: County Farm Service Agency (FSA) committees determine land eligibility using on-site damage inspections that assess the type and extent of damage. To be eligible for EFRP, NIPF land must: Have existing tree cover (or had tree cover immediately before the natural disaster occurred and is suitable for growing trees); and, be owned by any nonindustrial private individual, group, association, corporation, or other private legal entity, that has definitive decision-making authority over the land. In addition, the natural disaster must have resulted in damage that if untreated would: impair or endanger the natural resources on the land; and, materially affect future use of the land.
  • Forestry Practices Covered: Practices necessary to restore forests either through natural or artificial regeneration. This would include mechanical clearing, herbicide applications, seedlings, planting, etc.
  • Pay Rate: Participants may receive financial assistance of up to 75 % of the cost to implement approved emergency forest restoration practices.
  • Contract Length: 10 years
  • Application Process: Check with the Farm Service Agency at your local USDA Service Center regarding EFRP sign-up periods.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

  • Eligibility: Farmers, ranchers and owners of private, non-industrial forest land that promote agricultural production, forest management and environmental quality.
  • Forestry Practices Covered: Prescribed burning, site preparation & tree planting, pre-commercial & commercial thinning, road stabilization and wildlife management practices.
  • Pay Rate: Landowners receive a pay rate based on 75% of the cost of installing the practice. Beginning and limited resource farmer may receive a 90% pay rate.
  • Contract Length: EQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practice(s) and a maximum term of ten years.
  • Application Process: This program is administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Applications are received on a continuous basis with special signup periods for certain initiatives. To apply contact the NRCS office at your local USDA Service Center.

Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP)

  • Eligibility: Must be private land or Tribal land which will restore, enhance or measurably increase the likelihood of recovery of a threatened or endangered species, improve biological diversity and increase carbon sequestration.
  • Forestry Practices Covered: Practices that enhance or increase habitat for threatened and endangered species.
  • Pay Rate: A 10-year restoration cost-share agreement; for which the landowner may receive 50 % of the average cost of the approved conservation practices or a 30-year easement, for which the landowner may receive 75 % of the easement value of the enrolled land plus 75 % of the average cost of the approved conservation practices or permanent easements for which landowners may receive 100 % of the easement value of the enrolled land plus 100 % the average cost of the approved conservation practices.
  • Contract Length: 10-year cost-share agreements or 30 year to permanent easements.
  • Application Process: This program is administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). To apply contact the NRCS office at your local USDA Service Center.

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (PFW)

  • Eligibility: Any private landowner is eligible. There are no restrictions on project size. Eligible projects are wide-ranging and include farms, pasture, and forestry sites. Priorities for funding in Georgia include longleaf pine habitat restoration, riparian and stream habitat restoration, and threatened and endangered species habitat restoration.
  • Forestry Practices Covered: Eligible practices include stream restoration, livestock exclusion, restoring native vegetation in uplands, planting longleaf pine and establishing native ground cover.
  • Pay Rate: Landowners obtain technical assistance and up to 100% of the cost of implementing wildlife habitat restoration activities.
  • Contract Length: Landowners agree to maintain management practices/restored habitats for at least 10 years.
  • Application Process: This program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Contact your nearest USFWS office.

Wildlife Incentives for Nongame and Game Species (Project WINGS)

  • Eligibility: Landowners, leaseholders, hunting clubs, wildlife organizations, government entities, and others committed to managing right-of-ways for wildlife are eligible. Eligible right-of-ways include: Georgia Power, Georgia Transmission, MEAG Power, Savannah Electric, and AGL Resources.
  • Forestry Practices Covered: Chemical control of exotic plants, planting of annual or perennial plants and encouraging native vegetation through disking or mowing are most common practices.
  • Pay Rate: Provides cash grants of up to $1,350 over three years, along with planning assistance in managing electrical or gas transmission right-of-ways for wildlife. In the first year, payments cannot exceed $100 per acre; in the second year, participants are paid a flat rate of $35 per acre and for the third year, there are no payments.
  • Contract Length: 3 years
  • Application Process: Applications are accepted by Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) offices from May 15 through July 15 of each year. Contact your local USDA Service Center.