WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is seeking public comments on the Healthy Forests Reserve Program.

The HFRP was signed into law as part of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 and was reauthorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill). A proposed rule for the program was published in today's Federal Register.

"Through HFRP, landowners can restore and enhance forest ecosystems to promote the recovery of threatened and endangered species, improve biodiversity, reduce the risk of catastrophic fire, and enhance carbon sequestration," said NRCS Chief Arlen Lancaster. "I invite anyone interested in participating in HFRP to become familiar with the program and provide comments on the rule during the public comment period."

Restoring and protecting forests contributes positively to the economy of our nation, provides biodiversity of plant and animal populations, and improves environmental quality. To be eligible to participate in HFRP, land must restore, enhance, or measurably increase the likelihood of recovery of a threatened or endangered species, and must improve biological diversity, and be privately owned or owned by an Indian Tribe.

USDA encourages written comments on the proposed rule from individuals as well as governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations during the 30 day comment period. The proposed rule can be viewed at GPO Access. The period for public comments will close on or before Feb. 13, 2009.

Since its inception in 1935, NRCS' conservation delivery system continues a unique partnership, delivering conservation that respects local needs, while accommodating state and national interests. It is an efficient, interdependent, locally-based conservation support system.

SOURCE: Natural Resources Conservation Service via PR Newswire.