Allocation versus completion: Explaining the distribution of the Forest Development Program fund in North Carolina
The Forest Development Program (FDP) is a nationally renowned state-administered cost-share assistance program for forest landowners in North Carolina, primarily funded through taxation on primary forest product across the state. While the demand for FDP cost-share funds often exceeds available resources, over one-fourth of annual allocations on average go unused, due primarily to application cancellations and the divergence of actual costs and treated acres from the amounts approved originally. This study evaluates various factors related to the utilization of allocated funds based on actual cost-share fund usage data in the last six years. Results suggest that FDP applications associated with the piedmont region, shearing and chemical site preparation, hand-planting activities and larger applied acres are more likely to be completed as defined in the initial application. The methods and findings of this study provide useful insights to administrators of other similar public incentive programs. The need for similar analyses evaluating the utilization of public funds will likely grow as state and federal governments increasingly rely on incentive programs to meet ambitious goals in conservation and sustainable management of natural resources.