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SC praised for helping blacks who own forests

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BRUCE SMITH | November 7, 2013 06:29 PM EST | AP


RIDGEVILLE, S.C. (AP) — A top U.S. agriculture official says a South Carolina pilot program to help blacks keep the forests they own could be a model for the rest of the country.

Assistant Agriculture Secretary Joe Leonard praised the work being done by the nonprofit Center for Heirs' Property Preservation, which helps black property owners keep their land.

The center helped create a pilot program to help black forest owners realize income from their property through timbering, hunting and other activities. The program was partly financed by federal grants.

According to the Forest Service, about 229 million acres of southern forest is owned privately, about 16 million of that by blacks and other minorities.