EQIP Frequently Asked Questions and Answers - Fiscal Year 2008
(October 17, 2007 through February 28, 2008)
Forestry Management Implementation
Clarification on the Ranking Criteria #4 and #6 for Forestry Management
Implementation are listed below:
Ranking Question #4- Oak Regeneration (issued 11/21/07)
The intent of ranking question # 4 is to address the issue of shade tolerant species shading
out oak regeneration in established upland oak stands.
The problem occurs when the overstory oak is harvested and no oak regeneration is
present to grow in place of the removed overstory. The composition of the stand is then
changed as the more shade tolerant species become more dominant. The oak seed source
is lost with the removal of the overstory, and the increase in shade tolerant species
continues to suppress oak regeneration, the oak species is then lost from the site.
Key words to look for in the forest management plan:
• Upland sites
• Mature overstory
• Harvest the oak in the overstory
• Oak listed as a species in the overstory
• Oak regeneration suppressed
• Lacking oak advance regeneration
• No oak regeneration is present due to shade tolerant trees (for example: sugar maple,
ironwood, elm) in the understory or midstory
• Recommend TSI to remove shade tolerant species and enhance growth or establishment
of oak seedlings
• Recommend clear out undesirable species and plant mostly oak seedlings
• Regeneration cut harvest is recommended to release the oak seedlings
Note: Practices that include increasing the oak component in a stand, or returning the oak
component to a stand are important; however these practices do not meet the intent of the
ranking criteria for FY 2008.
The following situations would not garner ranking points:
• Bottomland sites
• No oak in overstory
• TSI on pole size stands or smaller (dbh = 1”-10.9”) with no overstory or scattered trees
• No oak regeneration present and no plans to plant oak
Typically for discussion purposes based on 2" diameter size classes
• Seedlings - just above acorn to .99 inches
• Saplings - 1" to 2.9" (2" Diameter Size Class)
• Small Trees - 3.0" to 6.9" (4" to 6" Diameter Size Class)-(Occasionally included as Pole
• Pole - 7" to 10.9" (8" to 10" Diameter Size Class)
• Small Saw - 11" to 14.9" (12" to 14" Diameter Size Class)
• Saw timber - 15"+
Ranking Question # 6 – Invasive Species (issued 11/21/07 and reissued 11/30/07)
The invasive species to be considered under Ranking Question # 6 are herbaceous plants
and woody shrubs, and vines.
Woody trees (i.e. Autumn Olive) will be treated under Forest Stand Improvement – forest
stand improvement – Invasive Species Control when the woody invasives are > 50% of
End of Clarifications and Beginning of Q and A’s
Question FMI1 (issued 10/17/07)
Is there a minimum amount of acres that is required for the forest management
Answer: No, as long as a forest related resource concern is being addressed with EQIP
dollars, CRP acres are not included, the acreage is being used for timber
production, the acreage has a Forest Management Plan, or meets another criteria
as described in the EQIP Manual under producer eligibility 515.51(c)(iv).
Question FMI2 (issued 10/17/07)
Does an applicant need a Farm and Tract number to be eligible for the Forest
Management Plan or Forest Management Implementation?
Answer: If the applicant has a Farm and Tract number on cropland adjacent to the
application area that Farm and Tract number should be used. If the applicant has
never participated in USDA programs, the applicant will need to complete and
file the following forms with FSA; AD-1026, CCC-526, and CCC-501A to
determine part of their EQIP eligibility. FSA may assign the applicant a Farm
and Tract number in order to process the required forms.
Question FMI3 (issued 10/23/07)
The EQIP forest management plan ranking excludes windbreaks, nurseries, etc. Do these
exclusions hold true for the forestry management implementation?
Answer: Yes, the same exclusions apply to the EQIP forestry management implementation
according to the forestland definition.
Question FMI4 (issued 10/23/07, reissued11/21/07, 01/07/08, 02/28/08)
When developing an EQIP contract for Forestry Management Implementation, to conduct
Forest Stand Improvement or Prescribed Burning, do the effects on the Indiana Bat have
to be evaluated if the bat does not show up on the EcoCAT report?
Answer: Official guidance can now be found in Amendment IL-2 Supplement to the
National Environmental Compliance Handbook dated 02/15/08 at the following
website and will supersede all previous Q and As and guidance.
Question FMI5 (10/23/07)
How is a forest management practice certified as complete?
Answer: The Illinois Department of Natural Resources certified forestry practices on
acres that are also enrolled eligible for the benefits through the Forestry
Development Act (FDA). IDNR foresters are required to certify all practices on
acres enrolled in the Forestry Development Act. NRCS will use IDNR forester
certification. If the landowner or affected acreage is not enrolled in the Forestry
Development Act, the NRCS field office or Area Specialist will need to certify
Question FMI6 (10/23/07, chart updated 1/7/08)
The Forest Management Implementation Ranking Criteria Question #6 asks if the forest
management plan identified a Plant Condition-Noxious and Invasive Plants resource
concern. Can you please provide a comprehensive list of all noxious and invasive plants
that would qualify an applicant to receive the points for Question #6.
Answer: Review the forest management plan. The need to treat noxious and/or invasive
species should be identified by the forester and included in the forest
management plan. Species and treatment recommendations should be listed.
Below is a partial list of invasive species commonly found in forestland. If the
forest management plan lists noxious or invasive species not on the attached list,
consult with your area specialist.
Commonly Found Noxious or Invasive Species In Forestland
(NOT AN ALL INCLUSIVE LIST)
COMMONLY FOUND NOXIOUS OR INVASIVE SPECIES IN FORESTLAND
(NOT AN ALL INCLUSIVE LIST)
Common Name Scientific Name Nativity* Source of listing
musk thistle Herbaceous Carduus nutans L. Introduced Illinois Administrative Code. 2002.
Illinois noxious weed law (20
October 2003). State of Illinois
Canada thistle Herbaceous Cirsium arvense (L.)Scop. Introduced Same as above
kudzu Woody Pueraria montana (Lour.) Introduced – China, Same as above
Merr. var. lobata (Willd.) Japan
Maesen & S. Almeida or
Pueraria lobata (Willd.) Ohwi
perennial sowthistle Herbaceous Sonchus arvensis L. Introduced Same as above
Columbus grass Herbaceous Sorghum almum Parodi Introduced Same as above
Johnsongrass Herbaceous Sorghum halepense (L.) Introduced Same as above
garlic mustard Herbaceous Alliaria petiolata Introduced - Europe http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/educatio
Japanese Woody Lonicera japonica Introduced - Asia Same as above
Amur honeysuckle Woody Lonicera maackii Introduced – Korea, Same as above
common buckthorn Woody Rhamnus cathartica Introduced - Eurasia Same as above
smooth buckthorn Woody Rhamnus frangula L. Introduced – Eurasia Same as above
glossy buckthorn Woody Franula alnus P. Mill. Introduced http://plants.usda.gov/
Oriental or round Woody Celastrus orbiculatus Introduced Same as above
multiflora rose Woody Rosa multiflora Introduced – rootstock Same as above
reed canary grass Herbaceous Phalaris arundinacea L. Native http://plants.usda.gov/
Japanese barberry Woody Berberis thumbergii Introduced - Asia http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/educatio
European privet Woody Ligustrum vulgare Introduced - Europe Same as above
wintercreeper or Woody Euonymus fortunei Introduced - China http://na.fs.fed.us/FHP/INVASIVE_
climbing Euonymus PLANTS/weeds/
winged wahoo or Woody Euonymus alatus Introduced – Asia, China Same as above
burning bush or
Autumn olive Woody Elaegnus umbellate Thunb or Introduced – China, http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/educatio
Elaeagnus umbellate Thunb. Korea, Japan n/ExoticSpecies/photogallery.htm
var. parvifolia Schneid.
If you are unfamiliar with a plant you can check the USDA PLANTS website
at: http://plants.usda.gov/ . On the upper left area of the webpage is the “Search
1. Type the name of the plant of interest (for example: garlic mustard)
2. In the pull down menu, select whether the name is the common name or
name or symbol.
3. Click the “go” button
4. The information for the plant of interest should be displayed
5. Right of the photo is a link entitled, “Growth Habit”. The growth habit for
garlic mustard is “Forb/Herb”. The definitions of the growth habit can be seen
by clicking on the link.
Question FMI7 (11/1/07)
Why was the first round ranking point cutoff for EQIP Forest Management
Implementation set at 80 points, which appears high for Forest Management
Implementation ranking category?
Answer: Many factors contribute to the establishment of the point cutoff. At this point, it
cannot be determined what EQIP point cutoffs will be in the future. Field
offices should continue to accept and rank applications for EQIP.
Question FMI8 (11/9/07)
Is land that is enrolled in the state CREP “other acres” eligible for the Forest
Management Implementation? There are no federal dollars for cost-share on those acres
and the area is not in the federal CREP program.
Answer: The EQIP Manual 515.52 F (iii) states that “Land enrolled in other conservation
programs is eligible under EQIP provided: (iii) The EQIP practices do not
defeat the purpose of either EQIP or the other conservation program.”
Therefore, if the EQIP Forest Management Implementation will be addressing a
resource concern that is not already required to be addressed by the state CREP
program, the land is eligible for EQIP funding for Forest Management
Question FMI9 (11/9/07, reissued 11/21/07)
How should National Issue #4 be determined for the Forest Management Implementation
applications? RUSLEII does not calculate soil erosion for forestland therefore, how do
we determine the application is at or above T?
Answer: For National Issue #4, on the Forest Management Implementation ranking
criteria only, soil loss does not have to be calculated. If the practices being put
on the ground using EQIP money have an X in the National Issue’s matrix, then
points should be given for National Issue #4 on the Forest Management
Implementation ranking criteria.
Question FMI10 (11/9/07)
An applicant’s forest management plan mentions that there are invasive species in their
forestland. However, in the recommendations of their plan, treatment of the invasive
species is not mentioned. Can the applicant receive points for Question #6 under Forest
Answer: Treatment of the invasive species should be mentioned in the recommendations
of the forest management plan in order to take points under Question #6.
If it appears that treatment of the invasive species is needed and was just not
mentioned in the recommendations, the District Conservationist should ask the
landowner to go back to the consulting forester to find out if the invasive
species should be treated or if not mentioning the treatment was an oversight. If
the landowner finds that the invasive species should be treated and the forest
management plan is updated to reflect the invasive species treatment, the
applicant can take points for Question #6.
Note: When inquiring with the consulting forester the landowner should find out
specifically what species need to be treated, how much area needs to be treated,
and what type of treatment should be used. The FOREST STAND
IMPROVEMENT (666) Job Sheet – Invasive Species in a Woodland Habitat
(draft September, 2007) could be used to document the invasive species
information. The Plan Implementation Schedule in the forest management plan
should be amended.
Question FMI11 (Issued11/9/07, Revised 11/21/07)
Can an applicant get points for Question #5 under the Forest Management
Implementation ranking criteria, if they will be treating forestland acres that are highly
erodible land or on steep slopes? Also, how are steep slopes defined?
Answer: Yes, if they will be applying one or more of the practices listed in Question #5
including: Fence (to exclude livestock out of a forest area), Forest Stand
Improvement (thinning), Prescribed Burning, and/or Forest Trails and Landings
on highly erodible or on steep slopes within their forestland, they can garner the
points in Question #5 of the Forest Management Implementation ranking
"Steep slopes", for the purposes of scoring the forest management
implementation questions, are defined as soils with "D" slopes or greater. Steep
Slopes and/or HEL soils need to be >10% of the forestland acres to garner
points for Question #5 under the Forest Management Implementation ranking
Question FMI12 (11/9/07)
Can an EQIP application include the FOREST STAND IMPROVEMENT – Invasive
Species payment scenario more than one time to compensate for multiple treatments of
invasive species on the same acreage?
Answer: If an EQIP applicant has a forest management plan that identifies invasive
species control is needed and the species being treated cannot be controlled in
one treatment, the invasive species practice can be paid on for more than one
treatment but not more than 3 treatments. If invasive species need to be treated
more than one time, we would expect to see the acres or intensity of the
treatment reduced in each consecutive treatment.
Herbicide treatment for bush honeysuckle and garlic mustard in a 10 acre forest
1st year – Forest Stand Improvement – invasive species - woody on 10 acres
(treating both bush honeysuckle and garlic mustard. bush honeysuckle > 50% of
2nd year – Forest Stand Improvement – invasive species - woody on 10 acres
(treating both bush honeysuckle and garlic mustard. bush honeysuckle > 50% of
3rd year – Forest Stand Improvement – invasive species - herbaceous on 5
(treating both bush honeysuckle and garlic mustard – where garlic mustard is
now > 50% of area)
The plan is to treat the whole 10 acre forest land unit the first year because it has
an infestation of > 50% of woody species. The second year (or maybe only 4
months later) resprouts need to be treated so; a second treatment of woody
species would be included in the contract. Then a third treatment is expected to
be necessary for some bush honeysuckle treatment but primarily treating the
garlic mustard (> 50% herbaceous species) on 5 acres (the other 5 acres should
be controlled after the second treatment). There may be continued spot
treatment needed in the fourth and following years but this is considered
maintenance and would be at the owner’s expense.
Question FMI13 (11/21/07)
If the Forest Management Plan includes prescribed burning can NRCS employees write
prescribed burning into a Toolkit plan and ProTracts contract?
Answer: Yes, NRCS employees can write prescribed burning into a Toolkit plan and
ProTracts contract as long as the employee has Level A Job Approval authority
for prescribed burning, per the policy found in the General Manual Part 413-
Prescribed Burn, Subpart B. Even though prescribed burning is listed in the
forest management plan, the field office will need to determine if the
recommended prescribed burn is in compliance with NRCS-Illinois policy. See
General Manual 190-ESC Amendment IL-1 (Part413, Subpart B).
Question FMI14 (11/21/07)
Who will be designing and implementing the Forest Management Implementation
Answer: The practices can be designed either by NRCS or by a third party. If designed
by someone other than NRCS, the designs must be reviewed by NRCS to ensure
the practice will meet our standards and specifications.
Question FMI15 (11/21/07)
Is it a requirement to complete the job sheets for Forest Management Implementation
Answer: Yes, if NRCS is designing the forest management implementation practices, the
job sheets must be completed. If a third party is designing the practices the job
sheets are not required, yet as stated in the previous question the designs must
be reviewed by NRCS to ensure the practice will meet our standards and
Question FMI16 (11/21/07)
Who can design/write a prescribed burning plan?
Answer: A NRCS employee with appropriate job approval authority for the site, or a
third party can design/write the prescribed burning plan. All prescribed burn
plans will need to be reviewed and approved by an NRCS employee with
adequate job approval authority for prescribed burning.
Question FMI17 (11/21/07)
Several of the Forest Management Plans recommended planting rates for tree/shrub
establishment, which were below the planting rates recommended in our standards and
specifications. Since the planting rate was recommended by the consulting forester can
we assume that the recommendation was made because there were enough seedlings per
acre already growing on the site?
Answer: The recommended planting rates of the Forest Management Plan plus the
existing seedlings on site should equal at least the standard minimums (436
bareroot or 1 gallon or less container trees planting on 10’x10’ spacing) of the
612 Tree/Shrub Establishment standard.
Question FMI18 (11/30/07)
Although field offices are not required to submit bills for payment processing of practice
implementation for EQIP 2007 contracts and beyond, should Prescribed Forestry and/or
Forest Management Implementation bills be collected to calculate average costs via Cost
Answer: Yes, collect bills for all applicable EQIP practices. How costs will be collected
for FY 2008 has not been determined; therefore, all field offices are required to
keep bills for all practices where possible. Bills will also be useful as proof of
Question FMI19 (11/30/07)
Can an applicant with 60 acres of Forest Stand Improvement schedule the work over
three years and get paid after each years work is completed (i.e.: 20 acres at a time), or
does payment have to wait for the entire forested area to be completed? Also, will a site
visit from a Forester to mark removal trees for the landowner serve as contract activity
meeting the need to begin a contract within 12 months?
Answer: In order to make timelier payments for smaller parcels, the recommendation is
to delineate treatment areas into smaller units and develop separate contract
items accordingly. Marking of tree removal can be considered as a contract
activity conducted within the first 12 months.
Question FMI20 (Original 11/30/07; Revised 1/7/08)
Can a landowner that has been approved for Forest Stand Improvement practices through
the IFDA (Illinois Forestry Development Act) working through the District Forester, also
receive EQIP money?
Answer: Answer: EQIP is typically not used when another cost sharing program is
available. However, if the landowner initially signed up for EQIP and then
IDNR wanted to “piggy-back” with IFDA funds that would be an acceptable
situation. The contract holders should not receive more than 100% of the cost
to install the practice.
Question FMI21 (11/30/07)
Will the Forest Management Implementation (FMI) applications that are selected for
funding be reviewed by the State Forester as they were after the first EQIP funding
Answer: No. The first review of the FMI applications by the State Forester should have
provided enough oversight in order that the Field and Area Office staff can now
review and process an FMI application and contract. If questions come up with
ranking the applications, the Area Staff should contact Paula Hingson. If
questions come up with interpreting what the Forester intended with the Forest
Management Plan, the Area staff should contact Kathy McTighe.
Question FMI22 (11/30/07)
An applicant has two parcels of Timber that are separated by grassland. The applicant has
a Forest management plan on the Timber, but the grassland area is not included in the
Forest management plan. The applicant wants to conduct a prescribed burn in the timber
and on the grassland. Can the applicant apply under FMI for prescribed burning in the
timber area and on the grassland?
Answer: No. Since the FMI ranking criteria focuses on forestland, the grassland area will have to
be a separate application under General EQIP. Unfortunately, when separate ranking
criteria are created to target specific resource concerns, it becomes difficult to be all
inclusive in situations like the one presented here.
Question FMI23: (1/7/08)
Can a list of invasive and noxious Woody and Herbaceous species for vegetative control
Answer: Yes, the chart in Question FMI6 has been modified to include a column titled
“Woody or Herbaceous”. See FMI 6 for chart and directions to USDA PLANTS
Question FMI24 (1/7/08)
Can thinning (Forest Stand Improvement – forest stand improvement scenario) be
included in the following contract scenario:
Example: Stand 1 (20 acres) Management Recommendations: The stand is ready for a
harvest. Remove over mature trees on 15 acres. Follow the harvest with a thinning to
remove undesirable trees on the remaining acres.
Year Stand Acres
2006 1 15
2007- At least 2 acres per year until
2017 all acres are complete
Answer: A forestry conservation practice can be included in a contract if the forest
management plan specifies acres to be treated. The example above is unclear
between the “Stand 1 (20 acres) Management Recommendations” or the
“Implementation Schedule” regarding the total number of acres being
recommended for thinning. Is the forester recommending thinning on the 5
acres not being harvested, throughout the entire 20 acre stand, or on the 15 acres
The acres of forest stand improvement would need to be clarified by the forester
before the practice could be added to a contract. If the forest management plan
includes an adequate map, the acres of forest stand improvement may be able to
Question FMI25 (1/7/08)
Can a timber harvest be part of an EQIP contract?
Answer: A timber harvest cannot be an item in the EQIP contract. However, a timber
harvest may be conducted and completed while the land is under an EQIP
Question FMI26 (1/7/08)
If an applicant enters into an EQIP contract, can that applicant still harvest timber on that
property? What about endangered species like the Indiana bat?
Answer: Example: The applicant’s forest management plan includes a timber harvest
followed by Forest Stand Improvement (666) on the same acres. The applicant
signs a contract for Forest Stand Improvement.
An applicant can have a timber harvest if NRCS did not provide financial or
technical assistance for the timber harvest. With no assistance from NRCS, the
timber harvest is not considered a federal action. The timber harvest would be
completed before the Forest Stand Improvement practice would be
The Forest Stand Improvement practice under contract is considered a federal
action and is subject to the “Guidance related to the Indiana bat and the gray
bat” (or any other federally listed endangered or threatened species). See FMI4
for website information. For further information review Amendment IL-2
Supplement to the National Environment Compliance Handbook dated 2/15/08.
Question FMI27 (1/7/08)
In the case where an applicant's forest management plan includes a timber harvest
followed by Forest Stand Improvement, and Forest Stand Improvement is the only
practice in the contract, how should we advise the applicant to proceed with the forest
Answer: Program rules state that a practice needs to be started within one year. The
timber harvest would need to be completed prior to the implementation of the
Forest Stand Improvement.
If the landowner is not already working with a professional forester regarding
the timber harvest, it may be difficult to begin the Forest Stand Improvement in
the timeframe required by the EQIP contract.
Below is a list of activities that are recommended to take place before a timber
• Select a consulting forester (see FMP 10). Discuss with the forester the
amount to harvest, harvest method, length of time to complete harvest, and sign
a contract with the forester.
• The forester should cruise the timber (determine volume), layout the road(s),
skid trails, and landing(s).
• Advertise the sale and conduct a sealed bid of the timber.
• Conduct a reference check of the loggers before accepting the bids. Possibly
make a site visit to an area the loggers have recently harvested. Talk with the
landowners about their experience with the logger. Ask the loggers similar
questions you would ask to the consulting forester (see FMP 10). Talk with the
forester you hired about his or her experience with the loggers.
• Confirm that the logger can complete the sale prior to the time when the
NRCS contract for the forest stand improvement expires. Confirm that the
forester is available to administer the sale (i.e. be on site during the harvest).
• Sign a contract with the logger.
• The logging may not be able to begin immediately. The timing of the logging
may be restricted due to soil types, endangered or threatened species, or
weather. Questions regarding timing of logging may include: does a road need
to be built to the landing; do water crossings need to be installed; and is the
logger conducting the road work, is the road work subcontracted, or does the
landowner need to find someone?
The bottom line is that the landowner should not enter into a contract for a
timber sale in a rush in order to begin the Forest Stand Improvement within the
first 12 months of the contract. The timber sale can improve a landowner’s
property if done correctly and produce a better return when managed well. A
poor timber sale can set an investment back for a generation or two.
Question FMI28 (1/7/08)
Can a list of the approved Consulting Foresters in Illinois be provided to the field offices?
Answer: See answer to FMP10
An Question FMI29 (1/31/08)
Could trees that are not on the Noxious and Invasive Species list be considered invasive
if existing density rates are very high?
Answer: No. Native tree species, no matter how invasive, are funded under the forest
stand improvement payment scenario of $50.88/acres. The two payment
scenarios for forest stand improvement were developed as native invasive
woody and native invasive herbaceous rather than on a density or basal area