‘Keeping it in the Family’ project provides education and technical assistance to African American forest landowners in Arkansas
Generational land loss has drastically affected African American families and their access to capital to build generational wealth. Recent research conducted by the University of Massachusetts-Boston found that more than $326 billion worth of land was lost due to discrimination in the past century. Heirs’ property has also been a contributing factor to land loss. Heirs’ property occurs when the original owner passes away and land is passed down from generation to generation without a clear title. Consequently, many African American farmers and landowners don’t have an estate plan or succession plan to help protect their families and assets. Due to the lack of information and resources, many farmers and landowners don’t consider timber as a potential asset and leave the land idle and unproductive. As a result, many lose their land because they failed to manage the land and make it productive.
In response, the Small Farm Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff received a grant to start the Sustainable Forestry African American Land Retention Program. The program has eight project sites, including the “Keeping it in the Family” (KIITF) Arkansas site. UA-Pine Bluff collaborates with agencies and nonprofit organizations to conduct this program for African American forest landowners. The KIITF project provides education and technical assistance to landowners in more than 18 counties. The project team coordinates educational meetings and trainings and provides one-on-one site visits, family Zoom meetings, free forestry management plans, Natural Resources Conservation Service financial and technical assistance to implement forestry and wildlife conservation practices, cost-share assistance for surveying expenses and limited genealogy and legal assistance for estate planning and asset protection.
During the 2021-2022 program year, KIITF team members conducted 99 site-visits and 25 program activities. The project team helped 18 African American forest landowners obtain $300,000 in Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds to install land-improving conservation practices on 1,316 forestland acres. The project team also helped 26 landowners to obtain USDA Farm Numbers (needed to participate in USDA programs) and 19 African Americans in receiving $70,739 in cost-share assistance to obtain land surveys. In addition, KITF conducted an in-person three-day KIITF “champion” landowners’ retreat and forestry tour. Two “champion” landowners coordinated and moderated three quarterly KIITF Landowner Empowerment webinars, which drew a total of 253 participants.
Link to full statement on website: http://landgrantimpacts.tamu.edu/impacts/show/6049