Arkansas Group Receives USDA Bottomland Grant




Dr. Homer Wilkes, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), met with faculty from the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center (AFRC) of the University of Arkansas System Div. of Agriculture housed at UAM to award them a grant for $3.7 million. The meeting took place at Five Oaks Ag Research and Education Center in Humphrey, Ark., where part of the work for the project will be conducted.

The grant provides funding for USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities projects, which are aimed at supporting sustainability in agriculture. AFRC at UAM is the lead on the project and will partner with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) and Texas A&M University (TAMU), as well as with recruited landowners. Dr. Nana Tian, assistant professor of natural resources economics and policy at UAM, developed the proposal for the grant and will serve as the project director.

The project will support small and underserved landowners in the river-influenced forest regions of Arkansas to develop and harness climate-smart commodities from restoration of the region’s hardwood forests. Bottomland hardwood forests have shown high potential for producing climate-smart commodities including carbon sequestration and storage, wood products, wildlife and other ecosystem services. Despite their importance, 70% of bottomland hardwood forest areas have been lost in the past 100 years.

USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Homer Wilkes, center, visits with Division of Agriculture faculty at a research site in Humphrey, Arkansas. Wilkes visited the site on Dec. 16 to announce a $3.7 million grant for research in the Southern Bottomland Region. (Division of Agriculture photo.)

The project aims to plant 500 to 600 acres of oak forests in the agriculturally dominant floodplain of the Red River Valley of southwestern Arkansas, the Ouachita River Valley of southcentral Arkansas and the Bayou Meto Watershed in eastern Arkansas. The project will also quantify and demonstrate the ecological and economic benefits of bottomland hardwood forest restoration on working lands and help landowners manage the plantations and market climate-smart commodities.

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