NRCS and U.S. Forest Service Partner Improve Forest Health
(St. Paul, MINN & Cass Lake, MINN)February 10, 2014- The Natural Resources Conservation Service announced this week a multi-year partnership with the United States Forest Service to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet across the nation.
“Both of these agencies have the same goal – improving the health of our forest lands,” State Conservationist Don Baloun said. “By combining resources and working in a coordinated fashion, this partnership will restore lands across large landscapes regardless of ownership.”
The project, called the Chiefs’ Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership, will invest $30 million in 13 projects across the country, including $435,000 in Minnesota, to help mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.
The 13 priority projects will build on existing projects with local partnerships already in place. By leveraging technical and financial resources and coordinating activities on adjacent public and private lands, conservation work by NRCS and FS will be more efficient and effective in these watersheds.
“By working together, we can provide more assistance to help public and private landowners and managers put conservation solutions on the ground, providing greater benefits to surrounding communities and habitats, such as reforestation, hazardous fuels reduction, non-native invasive species control in Minnesota, Baloun said.”
“The Chiefs’ Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership is an opportunity for our agencies to pool resources and get better results for the people of Minnesota,” Chippewa National Forest Supervisor Darla Lenz added. “Restoring the health of our region’s forests is extremely important for our state and it’s going to take partnerships like this to see the job through.”
The Minnesota project is called the Upper Mississippi Headwaters Restoration. Minnesota takes great pride and responsibility in protecting the source of the mighty Mississippi River, a watershed that covers half of the United States. The headwaters area is used for timber production, agriculture, recreation and as a primary drinking water source. In July 2012, a large wind event severely damaged a large area of the forest, wildlife habitat, infrastructure and recreational activities. Although much recovery work has been completed, there is still a need for reforestation, hazardous fuels reduction, non-native invasive species control, and long term protection and management of this vital ecosystem. Funding for this fiscal year includes $250,000 from the Forest Service for work on the Chippewa National Forest and $185,000 from the NRCS.
Summaries of all projects selected can be found here: Project descriptions
About Chippewa National Forest
Chippewa National Forest is the first National Forest established east of the Mississippi with nearly 1.6 million acres at the headwaters of the Mississippi River in north-central Minnesota. Chippewa National Forest shares boundaries with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and contains outstanding cultural resources, premier habitat for aquatic, riparian and terrestrial wildlife and plants, leads in conservation of the bald eagle and in protection for vast wetland resources. Visit the Chippewa National Forest’s website at www.fs.usda.gov/chippewa for more information.
About Natural Resources Conservation Service
With the mission of “Helping People Help the Land,” the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides products and services that enable people to be good stewards of the Nation’s soil, water, and related natural resources on non-Federal lands. With our help, people are better able to conserve, maintain, or improve their natural resources. As a result of our technical and financial assistance, land managers and communities take a comprehensive approach to the use and protection of natural resources in rural, suburban, urban, and developing areas. For more information, see www.nrcs.usda.gov
About the U.S. Forest Service
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, see www.fs.fed.us
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (toll-free customer service), (800) 877-8339 (TDD), or (800) 845-6136 (TDD in Spanish).