“Good Neighbor Authority” Provides Opportunity for Forest Industry


The wildfires of 2006 and 2012 in Nebraska’s Pine Ridge have had an incredible impact on the Nebraska National Forest--Pine Ridge Ranger District (NNF) near Chadron, Nebraska with approximately 5000 acres of pine timber remaining. As a result, the US Forest Service (USFS) has been managing the remaining forests and removing dead timber to reduce the potential for future wildfire impacts. Through a new program called the “Good Neighbor Authority”, and a partnership with the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS), management of the NNF will be completed quicker, with more acres managed.

Good Neighbor Authority
The Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) allows the USFS to enter into cooperative agreements or contracts with States and Puerto Rico to allow the States to perform watershed restoration and forest management services on National Forest System land. This contract with a partnering state agency authorizes the State the responsibility for preparation, contracting and administration of specific management activities on USFS lands. This program is especially important and beneficial in regions which may lack the USFS staff availability to implement and oversee crucial forest management activities even though the work has been approved and environmental processes have been completed.

GNA in Nebraska
In 2018, the NFS signed a Master Agreement with the NNF providing NFS the authority to administer forest management activities on USFS land in Nebraska, the first ever agreement of its kind in Nebraska.
Funding for both the administration and the forest management activities is federal funding, however the Master Agreement approves the use of state contracting processes rather than federal processes which will allow for projects to be completed quicker than before.
In October 2018, following some very competitive bidding, the NFS awarded a contract to Munoz Forestry LLC for 243 acres of fuels reduction work in the 2012 West Ash Fire footprint. This contract, “GNA – Case 1”, will treat fire and beetle killed ponderosa pine, southwest of Chadron.
The ability to use the University’s bidding and contracting model vs the federal model facilitated very competitive bidding from local contractors. The bids were considerably less than with similar prescriptions on Pine Ridge projects using the federal model.

Outcomes and Future
The ability to use University procurement processes, rather than federal, provide more opportunities for local contractors who may have been intimidated by the federal contracting procedure. This simpler process has, and will likely continue to, led to decreased per acre management costs, meaning that more acres can be treated with the available funding. Additionally, there is a greater opportunity for Nebraska contractors to bid on projects on the NNF, leading to greater impacts in the forest and more business opportunities for Nebraska forestry businesses.