ICE STORM RELIEF IS A PHONE CALL AWAY
(from Maine Townsman, November 1998)

Did last January’s infamous ice storms devastate the trees along your town’s Main Street or level community woodlots?

Thanks to Maine’s Congressional Delegation, $27 million in federal grant money is now available at the Maine Forest Service to provide financial assistance to municipalities and woodlot owners.

Take a look at some of the recovery programs available: noncompetitive grants for street tree and town forest recovery; fire hazard reduction for high risk public and private lands; and reduced cost, post-storm aerial photographs. All towns affected by the storm qualify, including those previously assisted by FEMA (restrictions apply). Grant applications are being accepted on a rolling basis.

Public safety is a critical and common goal of the forestry grants.

The Urban and Community Ice Storm Recovery Grant reduces public safety hazards, increases tree survival and long term health, and maintains the structural integrity of street trees and town forests through the long term.

The Ice Storm Forest Fire Hazard Reduction Grant programs are designed to reduce fire hazards in the urban/wildlife interface by assisting local fire departments in forest fire response planning and providing forest fire training and non-capital personal protective equipment at a reasonable price.

When you apply for the grant, you should be aware that all programs provide 75% cost reimbursement for assessment and remediation, retroactive to May 5, 1998. Applicants are responsible for a 25% match that may include in-kind services and equipment usage. Assessment grants are pre-approved (up to $2,500 and $1,000 reimbursable, respectively) and recovery plans are considered individually for reimbursement caps.

Last spring, Maine Forest Service officials documented the damage with aerial photographs shot before the green-up. These photographs illustrate the devastation to Maine’s forest statewide. While visually intriguing, the purpose of the photographs is to assist towns in identifying ice storm damage and setting priorities for recovery plans. To purchase copies for your municipality, contact Lynn at the James W. Sewall Company, 827-4456, ext. 281. Prints are $2.50 apiece.

Maine was unprepared last January when the icy rains began to fall and ultimately led to one of the worst disasters in its forest’s history. Just as the state was not prepared, neither are towns prepared to cope financially with the burden. The Maine Forest Service encourages all town officials to add "Ice Storm Recovery" as a line item on their warrants now in anticipation of budget discussions in the spring of 1999.


SIDEBAR:

Ice Storm Recovery Dollars Available for:

• Cemetery, school yard, park and street tree removal, pruning and replacement

• Forest fire hazard assessment & mitigation, planning, training and protective gear

• Town forest management plans and recovery

To learn more about your opportunities call Stacy Kontrabecki, Ice Storm Recovery Coordinator, Maine Forest Service at (207) 287-3920 or toll free at 1-800-367-0223.