The Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering a second funding opportunity to eligible participants who want to improve forest health on private forest lands in San Bernardino and Riverside counties and mitigate threats of wildfires.

Applications are being accepted now and the deadline is June 20. Funding for financial and technical assistance is being made available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

“It’s a new program. We’re working with the Forest Service. They are working on federal lands and NRCS is helping on private lands,” said Robert Hewitt of the NRCS San Jacinto office. “It will fund different types of work — mastification, reforestation, brush removal, tree trimming, dead tree removal and erosion control.”

Interested owners or operators of non-industrial private forest land may be eligible for this Healthy Forest EQIP Initiative for San Bernardino Mountains. The project area is centered on private or tribal lands within the San Bernardino Mountain range, including Twin Pines and Idyllwild.

In order to be considered eligible for financial assistance, the applicant must have a vested interest in non-industrial private forestland and meet other program eligibility requirements.

While there is no acreage limitation, Hewitt suggested that projects of less than 5 acres would unlikely be cost-effective. A neighborhood might propose a project, but each property owner would have to sign up, he added.

“The focus is on treating private forest land within and adjacent to the San Bernardino National Forest to reduce catastrophic wildfire, improve forest health, improve water quality services, rehabilitate burned lands and improve wildlife habitat,” said NRCS District Conservationist Kim Lary in a press release.

This funding opportunity is part of a multi-year partnership between NRCS and the U.S. Forest Service to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems in places across the nation where public and private lands meet. This effort, called the Chiefs’ Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership, is helping to mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.

For western Riverside County, call the San Jacinto Local Partnership Office at 951-654-7139.

For northern Riverside and southern San Bernardino counties, call the Redlands Service Center at 909-799-7407.