Stewardship contracting was first authorized as a pilot program in 1999. In 2003, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) were granted 10-years authority to enter into Stewardship Contracts or Agreements. The Agriculture Act of 2014 reauthorized the authority permanently and provided fire liability limitations for all Stewardship Contracts.
Stewardship Contracting allows the Forest Service and BLM to enter into a variety of different contracts, which allow them to trade goods (usually timber or biomass) for services (which can cover a variety of land management practices, including habitat improvement, fish passage, and other activities which would otherwise have to be obtained through service contracts). Stewardship Contracting has proven an effective, and increasingly important, mechanism to help federal land management agencies achieve land management goals. Further, in many regions, timber volumes produced through Stewardship Contracts make up a significant percentage of the Forest Service’s annual sale program.
Authority for Stewardship Contracting expires on September 30, 2013.