USDA Commits $32 Million to Protect Natural Resources

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today 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. Over $3 million will be invested in the Appalachian regions of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia to help sustain oak ecosystems and restore forests and grasslands. 

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. Since 2014, USDA has invested more than $139 million in 49 projects, across 36 states.

“This collaboration helps local partners meet the growing challenges faced by all stakeholders that comes 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 Under Secretary 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 multiple 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. For full project descriptions and information on completed projects, visit the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership webpage.

Pennsylvania – Sustaining Pennsylvania’s Oak Ecosystems through Partnership in Forest Management (Allegheny National Forest)

$1,074,030 (Forest Service $724,030, NRCS $350,000)

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)

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)

$176,400 Forest Service

Nebraska – Nebraska Northwest Landscape Restoration Project (Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands)

$874,746 (Forest Service $547,336, NRCS $327,410)

Oregon – Salmon Superhwy Basin Management Project (Siuslaw National Forest)

$412,855 (Forest Service $162,855, NRCS $250,000)

Oregon – North Warner Multi-Ownership Forest Health Project (Fremont-WineMa National Forest)

$1,149,283 (Forest Service $353,084, NRCS $796,199)

Utah – Monroe Mountain Aspen Ecosystems Restoration Project (Fishlake National Forest)

$434,107 (Forest Service $375,765, NRCS 58,342)

News release by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.