Delaware Landowner Incentive Program (DELIP)
Delaware has lost 70% of its original forest cover due to agriculture, urban and commercial development. Much of the remaining forest habitat exists in an isolated and degraded state and is unable to support species dependant on large contiguous tracts of forest habitat. To address this loss, Delaware’s Landowner Incentive Program (DELIP) provides assistance to private landowners interested in restoring or enhancing forest habitat for wildlife. Restoration efforts will include reforestation of marginal farmland to native forest stands and/or riparian forest buffers. Reforestation will focus on connecting small forest blocks, thus increasing habitat for species currently limited by habitat size and connection. Reforestation improves water quality for stream-dwelling species such as the Mottled sculpin and Dwarf wedgemussel within riparian corridors by filtering excess nutrients and sediments and lowering the temperature of stream habitats.
What areas are ideal for reforestation?
Reforest entire agricultural fields and/or pastures, field edges (buffer), along existing streams and drainage ditches and cutovers.
Financial Assistance available
Seventy-four percent cost-share, a flat rate of $296.00/acre to establish native hardwoods, softwoods and shrub establishment. The flat rate includes all installation and material costs including seedlings and planting. If plantings are established on agricultural lands the landowner will receive a rental payment for the loss of agricultural income. The rental payment will be made annually, in the fall of each year. In return the landowner will be required to manage their early successional habitat for a period of 5 or 10 years. This may include invasive species control specifically control of Canadian thistle, red maple and/or sweet gum and mowing where necessary after nesting season.
Selective Thinning which will directly benefit species-at-risk
The Delaware Landowner Incentive Program uses selective thinning to enhance the habitat of a species-at-risk like the Delmarva Fox Squirrel, bog turtle, and rare plants species. The purpose of selective thinning is to allow more sunlight to reach the floor of the forest and allows for more desirable plant and tree species to grow, like mast-producing oaks for the Delmarva Fox Squirrel. This is done by removal of the selected trees or by girdling the selected trees, which causes the tree to die but doesn’t cut the tree down, keeping it available for use by other wildlife. In addition, it may be necessary to score the bark and apply an approved aquatic herbicide to woody species such as red maple and multiflora rose to prevent the growth of suckers just below the wound. In wetland habitats the stumps must remain so the wetland is not disturbed.
Financial Assistance Available
Up to 75% cost-share, a flat rate of $146.52/acre is available for selective thinning as it relates directly to wildlife habitat and not timber stand improvement. This is particularly important in Delmarva fox squirrel zones where the desired outcome is older stands of trees with a clear understory and/or in areas where forest canopy is reducing the extent to which sunlight penetrates the ground floor limiting the growth of rare plant species. Thinned material will be left on the ground and/or stacked (brush pile) creating habitat for wildlife and in no way can this timber be sold for profit.