The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week announced a new investment of $32 million to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public forests and grasslands connect to privately owned lands.
Through the Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership, USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Forest Service will invest the new funds in fiscal year 2017 to add ten new projects and support 26 partnership projects already underway. Federal, state, and local partners will bring an additional $30 million through financial and in-kind contributions over three years to implement the newly added projects. With this funding, Joint Chiefs' projects will extend to 29 states.
"This collaboration helps local partners meet the growing challenges that come with protecting communities, watersheds, forests and woodlands from the devastating and costly impacts of wildfires and other threats, while protecting water resources, and improving wildlife habitat," USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie said.
Through the Joint Chiefs' partnership, USDA, tribes, private landowners and others recently completed the Lake Superior Basin Landscape Restoration Project in Wisconsin, providing natural resource benefits on public, private and tribal lands. The nearly $4.4 million project improved and restored critical spawning habitat for brook trout by reducing sedimentation and removing in-stream barriers on 48 miles of rivers and streams; improved nesting habitat for golden-winged warblers, Kirtland warblers and sharp-tailed grouse on nearly 3,000 acres; and reduced hazardous fuels on more than 5,360 acres of public lands.
"The Lake Superior project and other Joint Chiefs' projects show that smart, proactive investment in restoring forest ecosystems in these landscapes yields extraordinary benefits for landowners, communities, taxpayers, and wildlife," Bonnie said.
The ten new projects and the amounts of USDA funding are listed below.
Alaska - Prince of Wales Island Landscape Restoration Partnership
Tongass National Forest: $490,197 (Forest Service: $392,197 NRCS: $98,000)
California - Central Sierra Recovery and Restoration Project
Sierra National Forest: $3,370,911 (Forest Service: $1,799,344 NRCS: $1,571,567)
Michigan - Partnering for Watershed Restoration of Lake Superior
Ottawa National Forest, (Forest Service: $176,400)
Nebraska - Nebraska Northwest Landscape Restoration Project
Nebraska National Forest and Pawnee National Grasslands: $874,746
(Forest Service: $547,336 NRCS: $327,410)
Oregon - North Warner Multi-Ownership Forest Health Project
Fremont-Winerna National Forest: $1,149,283 (Forest Service: $353,084 NRCS: $796,199)
Pennsylvania - Sustaining Pennsylvania's Oak Ecosystems through Partnership in Forest Management , Allegheny National Forest: $1,074,030 (Forest Service: $724,030 NRCS: $350,000)
Utah - Monroe Mountain Aspen Ecosystems Restoration Project
Fishlake National Forest: $434,107 (Forest Service: $375,765 NRCS: 58,342)
Virginia - Lower Cowpasture Restoration Project, George Washington National Forest and Jefferson National Forest: $523,984 (Forest Service: $373,984 NRCS: $150,000)
West Virginia - Appalachian Ecosystem Restoration Initiative
Monongahela National Forest: $1,561,896 (Forest Service: $526,612 NRCS: $1,035,284)
Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water and enhancing wildlife habitat. For more information visit www.usda.gov.