The Keeping Maine's Forests initiative has currently published two proposals. (I covered the first of the two the other day in Part II of this series of posts.) The second proposal is "Keeping Maine's Forest-Based Economy: A National Demonstration Project." The 14-page proposal outlines seven themes-
1. Diversify Markets by funding a Forest Products Advisor.
2. Increase Energy Efficiency by restructuring the Rural Energy for America (REAP) grant program to better assist forest-based businesses. (On a side note, Red River applied for a REAP grant for our solar energy project but didn't make the cut.)
3. Enhanced Training and Assistance by increasing funding for the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant and Rural Business Opportunity Grant programs.
4. Expand Rural Broadband Access.
5. Improve Landowner Relations with recreational users of conservation lands.
6. Reduce Landowner Costs for trail construction and maintenance on conserved parcels.
7. Enhance Wood Supplies by restoring the WoodsWISE program, which stopped accepting applications in 2009 due to decreased USDA funding.
The Keeping Maine's Forests steering committee believes that, together, these seven themes will help strengthen Maine's forest economy, both from a products and a recreation/tourism perspective. I can't say I disagree with them; although I'm far from an economist. (In fact, I'm SO FAR from being an economist that I'm not going to even try to expand on the themes above; I'll just let you read the proposal for yourself. It's fairly short and sweet.)