UACES Facebook University of Arkansas at Monticello hosts USDA official; announces $3.7 million grant
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University of Arkansas at Monticello hosts USDA official; announces $3.7 million grant

Dec. 21, 2022

By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture 

Fast Facts:

  • Grant will support five-year project studying bottomland hardwood forest restoration
  • UAM, UAPB and Texas A&M researchers involved

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HUMPHREY, Ark. — Researchers and administrators with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture hosted a visiting official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture last Friday, highlighting projects that have garnered special federal funding in support of climate-smart initiatives.

BOTTOMLANDS — USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Homer Wilkes, center, visits with Division of Agriculture faculty at a research site in Humphrey, Arkansas. Wilkes visited the site on Dec. 16 to announce a $3.7 million grant for research in the Southern Bottomland Region. (Division of Agriculture photo.)

Homer Wilkes, USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, visited Five Oaks Ag Education and Research Center in Humphrey, located in central Arkansas. During the visit, Wilkes announced funding for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities projects, which includes about $3.7 million for an Arkansas-based project aimed at benefitting underserved landowners in the Southern Bottomland Region.

Wilkes noted that competition for the grants had been fierce, with more than 1,000 applications.

Nana Tian, an assistant professor of natural resources economics and policy with the University of Arkansas at Monticello, developed the winning grant proposal and is primary investigator on the project. She was on hand to discuss aspects of the project, which incorporates hardwood restoration in the Arkansas Delta.  

“Restoring bottomland hardwood forests is considered a viable climate-smart agricultural/forestry practice,” Tian said. “Small and underserved family landowners play a critical role in implementing this practice, but they face more barriers to adopting them than other landowners.

“This project aims to plant 500 to 600 acres of oak forests in the agriculturally dominant floodplain of the Red River Valley of southwestern Arkansas, the Ouachita River Valley of south-central Arkansas and the Bayou Meto Watershed in eastern Arkansas,” she said. “The project will also quantify and demonstrate the ecological and economic benefits of bottomland hardwood forest restoration on working lands and help landowners manage the plantations and market climate-smart commodities.”

Tian is also a researcher for the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, a partnership between UAM and the Division of Agriculture, through the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

Michael Blazier, director of the Arkansas Forestry Center and dean of UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources, said that the grant, which will fund five years of research and outreach efforts, will allow UAM and other cooperating institutions to work synergistically to bring ideas “from research to practice.”

“Long story short, it ties together so many great resources in terms of expertise and long-standing research and outreach efforts, and ties it all together to integrate economics, ecology and outreach,” Blazier said. He said Tian’s project will draw from efforts of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Texas A&M University. 

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media Contact:
Ryan McGeeney