7 CFR § 625.6 - Establishing priority for enrollment in HFRP.
(a) Ranking considerations. Based on the specific criteria set forth in a sign-up announcement and the applications for participation, NRCS, in coordination FWS and NMFS, may consider the following factors to rank properties:
(1) Estimated conservation benefit to habitat required by threatened or endangered species listed under section 4 of the ESA;
(2) Estimated conservation benefit to habitat required by species not listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the ESA but that are candidates for such listing, State-listed species, or deemed of greatest conservation need under a State wildlife action plan, or species identified by the Chief for special consideration for funding;
(3) Estimated improvement of biological diversity, if enrolled;
(4) Potential for increased capability of carbon sequestration, if enrolled;
(5) Availability of contribution of non-Federal funds;
(6) Significance of forest ecosystem functions and values;
(8) Other factors identified in a HFRP sign-up notice.
(b) NRCS may place higher priority on certain forest ecosystems based regions of the State or multi-State area where restoration of forestland may better achieve NRCS programmatic and sign-up goals and objectives.
(c) Notwithstanding any limitation of this part, NRCS may enroll eligible lands at any time in order to encompass project areas subject to multiple land ownership or otherwise to achieve program objectives. Similarly, NRCS may, at any time, exclude otherwise eligible lands if the participation of the adjacent landowners is essential to the successful restoration of the forest ecosystem and those adjacent landowners are unwilling to participate.
(d) If available funds are insufficient to accept the highest ranked application, and the applicant is not interested in reducing the acres offered to match available funding, NRCS may select a lower ranked application that can be fully funded. In cases where HFRP funds are not sufficient to cover the costs of an application selected for funding, the applicant may lower the cost of the application by changing the duration of the easement or agreement or reducing the acreage offered, unless these changes result in a reduction of the application ranking score below that of the score of the next available application on the ranking list.