Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program Receives USDA Forest Service 2019 Regional Forester’s Honor Award

— Written By Kristin Wing

From the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Greenville, SC

Greenville, SC – The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) is pleased to announce that the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention (SFLR) Program is a 2019 recipient of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Regional Forester’s Honor Award for Delivering State and Private Forestry Programs. The award recognizes groups and individuals who demonstrate outstanding commitment to excellence and teamwork for the sake of U.S. forests. The awards ceremony was held on December 13, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia.

“This year’s theme ‘Shared Stewardship, Shared Excellence – Our Commitment to the Land and People’ could not be a more appropriate description of the SFLR network,” said Alicia Cramer, Senior Vice President at the Endowment, and one of seven who accepted the award. “Everyone involved in this amazing program – including landowners across seven states, government, philanthropic, and community organizations – has consistently demonstrated a passion and commitment to supporting, connecting, and empowering African American landowners in the Southern Region. Their tireless work has enabled landowners to keep forests in the family and make those forests productive for generations to come.”

The SFLR program was launched in 2012 as an effort to aid African American landowners in turning their forested properties into economic assets. The program capitalizes on innovative partnerships between local, state, and federal organizations to assist landowners in this process. SFLR provides a variety of support to these landowners, including access to legal assistance and opportunities for sustainable forestry. The program supports projects across seven states and more than 1,300 landowners. The participants own a combined 83,000 acres.

Joining Alicia on stage in accepting the award for SFLR were Amadou Diop, representing State and Private Forestry – Southern Region of the USDA Forest Service; Cheryl Peterson, Managing Director, McIntosh SEED (GA); Steve Patterson, Director of Forestry Services, and D. Hope Watson, Staff Attorney, both from the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation (SC); and John Schelhas, Research Forester, and Cassandra Johnson Gaither, Research Social Scientist, both with the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station.

The SFLR program has been recognized with several national awards, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships in 2018 and USDA’s highest honor, the Abraham Lincoln Award for protecting natural resources in 2016. This past summer, the American Forest Foundation (AFF) became a key partner in the SFLR network and began a long-planned transition as the national coordinator for the work. AFF will work to help reach additional landowners and support policy efforts to curb African American land loss.

For more information contact:
Carlton N. Owen, President & CEO, 864-233-7646, carlton@usendowment.org
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities.

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