Sep 032009
 
Authors: Leete Lauren

After receiving a $10.7 million stimulus award in early August, the Colorado State Forest Service will award competitive grants to organizations in the forestry industry to fund projects with the ultimate aim of job creation and retention.

CSFS will allot $6.25 million for jobs pertaining to forest restoration and irrigation related projects, while $4.465 million is for the development and execution of community wildfire protection plans.

Forest Service leaders and a CSU dean said the stimulus money, disbursed by The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, is needed now more than ever.

“Colorado is struggling along with the rest of the country in this economic downturn, and the stimulus program can help struggling families and businesses by creating new jobs and retaining existing jobs, so people are not laid off,” Joseph O’Leary, dean of the Warner College of Natural Resources, said.

CSFS is accepting proposals until 5 p.m. on Sept. 30. Specific project requests from CSFS include: a Community Wildfire Protection Plan and Development Project, Community Wildfire Protection Plan Implementation Project, High Priority Forest Restoration and Fuels Mitigation Project and Forest Industry Retention and Assistance Project. Fuel mitigation, community protection plans concerning wildfire and forest restoration solely on non-federal lands in Colorado are among other areas needing development.

Organizations must mail four hard copies of each proposal to the Colorado State Forest Service at 3843 West LaPorte Ave., 5060 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523 with an attention line to Terrie Craven, ARRA project manager.

No electronic submissions will be allowed, and there are no length or format restrictions on the proposals.

Project guidelines are listed on the CSFS Web site, and the committee will select grant winners no later than Oct. 23.

According to the rubric for the fuels mitigation request for proposals on the Colorado State Forest Service Web site, “Jobs being created and/or retained is crucial to an acceptable Work Plan – number of jobs must be realistic for the work that is planned.”

Once the stimulus money is deployed, CSFS will play no part in managing the funded projects, which must be completed by Sept. 30, 2011.

O’Leary said the hope is that from now until 2011, the “job creation and retention will help stimulate the local economies . and hopefully give those communities time to recover so that the jobs can be sustained beyond the period of the grant.”

Once evaluated, the proposals are each given a percentile according to the points obtained, superior response, good response, fair response and failed response.

The good and fair responses still have a good chance of selection by the committee, Jahnke said, depending on the amount of superior responses received.

Staff Writer Lauren Leete can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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