$10M in COVID-19 relief dedicated to forestry

$10M in COVID-19 relief dedicated to forestry

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

A $10 million COVID-19 relief grant program will help timberland owners, Gov. Kay Ivey said Monday. 

“The forestry industry has an economic impact of over $23 billion in the state of Alabama and provides over 40,000 jobs in some of the most rural parts of our state,” Ivey said in a written statement. “CARES Act funds are intended to stabilize our economic losses and help our state recover from COVID-19. This program is designed to reduce the burden of Alabama’s 23 million acres of timberland and the subsequent jobs that depend on a healthy timber industry.”

Grants of up to $10,000 will be administered by the Alabama Forestry Commission on a first-come, first-serve basis. To qualify, timber owners have to have harvested in the months of March through July.

“The Alabama Forestry Commission understands that forest landowners in the state have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus,” State Forester Rick Oates said in a statement. “These assistance payments will not make landowners whole, but they will help.”

The money comes from about $1.9 billion awarded to the state earlier this year in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Ivey and lawmakers agreed to spend about up to $300 million of the Coronavirus Relief Fund to be used to support citizens, businesses, and non-profit and faith-based organizations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Legislature and Ivey also agreed to distribute:

  • $300 million to reimburse state agencies for expenses directly related to the coronavirus outbreak;
  • $250 million to deliver health care and related services to residents;
  • $250 million to reimburse counties and cities for coronavirus expenses;
  • $300 million for technology and infrastructure expenses related to remote learning;
  • $200 million for reimbursement of costs to the Department of Corrections incurred because of the outbreak;
  • $53 million for remote work and public access expenses incurred by state government, including the Legislature.