Biden administration spending $150M to help small forest owners benefit from selling carbon credits

Aug 22, 2023, 11:54 AM

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — The Biden administration said Tuesday it will spend $150 million to help owners of small parcels of forestland partner with companies willing to pay them for carbon offsets and other environmental credits.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grant program at a conference of Black landowners in coastal Georgia, saying programs that allow private companies to offset their own emissions by paying to protect trees have disproportionately benefited owners of large acreage.

“In order for those small, privately held forest owners to be able to do what they need and want to do requires a bit of technical help,” Vilsack told about 150 conference attendees in a church ballroom in Brunswick. “And sometimes that technical help is not easy to find. And it’s certainly not easy to afford.”

The grant money comes from the sweeping climate law passed by Congress just over a year ago and targets underserved landowners, including military veterans and new farmers, as well as families owning 2,500 acres (1,011 hectares) or less.

The goal is to protect more tracts of U.S. forest to help fight climate change. The past decade has seen a rapidly expanding market in which companies pay landowners to grow or conserve trees, which absorb carbon from the atmosphere, to counterbalance their own carbon emissions.

For owners of smaller family tracts, selling carbon offsets or other credits would give them an alternative income to harvesting their timber or selling their property to a developer.

Companies are pouring billions of dollars into environmental credits, but small landowners face daunting barriers to eligibility, said Rita Hite, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation. To participate, owners need to take an inventory of their forested property, have a land management plan and run models to calculate the land’s carbon value.

“Previously, if you didn’t have 5,000 acres or more, you weren’t participating in these markets,” Hite said. “Not only are there technical hurdles, but also financing hurdles.”

The American Forest Foundation and the Nature Conservancy launched a joint program four years ago that covers many of the costs for family land owners to sell carbon offsets for their land.

Those groups and other nonprofits will be eligible to apply for grants of up to $25 million to provide direct help to landowners under the Biden administration’s program. So will state forestry agencies, university agricultural extension services and others The money could pay professionals to help owners develop land management plans or to connect them with with project managers who serve as middlemen between owners and companies seeking environmental credits.

The grants were welcomed by John Littles, a leader of the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Network hosting the Georgia conference. The group represents 1,600 Black landowners across eight Southern states — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

“Most of the time, we’re left out — more specifically people of color,” Littles said. “We’re not afforded the opportunity to help design the programs, so the programs are mainly now designed for large landholdings and large acreage.”

Littles said his network plans to apply for a grant under the new program. But he’s not sure how much demand there will be from landowners. He said that will largely depend on whether owners of smaller acreages can get enough money from conservation credits.

“I think it’s still early to tell,” Littles said. “But it has to be a benefit for the landowners.”

Hite of the American Forest Foundation said landowners with small acreage shouldn’t expect big profits from selling environmental credits. She said owners enrolled in the group’s Family Forest Carbon Program earn on average about $10 per acre in a year.

“Is this going to matter for a 30-acre landowner? It’s not going to make them rich,” Hite said. “But it will probably pay the taxes.”

United States News

FILE - Defendant Kevin Monahan, left, listens to opening statements in his murder trial, Jan. 11, 2...

Associated Press

Man to be sentenced for murdering a woman who was mistakenly driven up his rural New York driveway

FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (AP) — A man who fatally shot a 20-year-old woman in an SUV that was mistakenly driven up his rural driveway in upstate New York is scheduled to be sentenced Friday. Kevin Monahan, 66, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death last April of Kaylin Gillis. Gillis was riding in a […]

3 hours ago

David and Stephanie Joiner pose by part of an artwork, called Greenwood Pond: Double Site, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Artists outraged by removal of groundbreaking work along Des Moines pond

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines arts organization is preparing to rip out a groundbreaking artwork that lines a pond in a historic city park, surprising the New York artist who created the work decades ago and leading to an outpouring of opposition by other artists and local residents. The decision to remove […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Parts of the Sierra Nevada likely to get 10 feet of snow from powerful storm by weekend

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The most powerful Pacific storm of the season is forecast to bring up to 10 feet (3 meters) of snow into the Sierra Nevada by the weekend, forcing residents to take shelter and prompting at least one Lake Tahoe ski resort to close Friday. The storm began barreling into the region […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Paramedic Peter Cichuniec attends his arraignment at the Adams County Justice Center in Brig...

Associated Press

Paramedic convictions in Elijah McClain’s death spur changes for patients in police custody

DENVER (AP) — Medical responders across the U.S. are rethinking how they treat people in police custody after a jury last December handed down a rare decision: It convicted two Colorado paramedics for their roles in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain following an overdose of a powerful sedative. As one of the paramedics faces […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Some left helpless to watch as largest wildfire in Texas history devastates their town

STINNETT, Texas (AP) — As the largest wildfire in Texas history engulfed his town, Danny Phillips was left helpless. “We had to watch from a few miles away as our neighborhood burned,” he said, his voice trembling with emotion. In his hard-hit town of Stinnett, population roughly 1,600, families like his who evacuated from the […]

4 hours ago

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis testifies during a hearing on the Georgia election inte...

Associated Press

With salacious testimony finished, legal arguments to begin over Fani Willis’ future in Trump case

ATLANTA (AP) — After several days of extraordinary testimony, the judge in the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump is set to hear arguments Friday over whether Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis should be removed from the prosecution over a romantic relationship. Lawyers for Trump and other defendants in the election […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Biden administration spending $150M to help small forest owners benefit from selling carbon credits