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2015 New Project Summaries - Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership

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Arizona - Prescott Basin Cross Boundary Project

The Prescott Basin Cross Boundary Project is located in the central highlands of Arizona and is comprised of 141,156 acres. A combination of drought and the long-term effects of aggressive fire suppression have created an unnatural buildup of brush and tree densities, creating a volatile accumulation of fuel and unhealthy forest conditions. The likelihood of a catastrophic wildfire occurring near the city of Prescott is highly probable. During 2013, the Doce Fire required the evacuation of over 500 homes adjacent to Prescott city limits costing $7 million to suppress. The nearby Yarnell Hill Fire also saw the destruction of over 100 homes and the loss of 19 lives. The 2013 fire season served as an important reminder that the Prescott Basin area is in need of treatments that increase the resiliency of the landscape, reduce extreme fire risk, and improve forest health and diversity that sustains habitats necessary for a variety of wildlife species including the Mexican spotted owl.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS - $487,500; NRCS - $400,000

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $650,000; NRCS - $99,000

Forest: Prescott National Forest

Partners: Highlands Center for Natural History; City of Prescott; AZ State Forestry; Prescott Area WUI Commission.

Colorado - San Juan Project

Fuel hazard in the project area is considered moderate to extreme. Heavily populated communities adjacent to and within treatments are at high risk of uncharacteristic wildfire. Treatments would reduce dense shrub cover through mastication and reduce tree density through selective thinning in order to mitigate uncharacteristic wildfire behavior and improve forest health. Strategic location of treatments within the watershed will also protect the Dutton ditch drainage and Pagosa Lakes, which are domestic water sources for the majority of the Archulete County population.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS - $472,500

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $611,000; NRCS - $248,500

Forest: San Juan National Forest

Partners: San Juan Conservation District; Colorado State Forest Service; Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association; San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership; Mountain Studies Institute; Hidden Valley and Eagle Peak Ranch Subdivisions.

Hawaii – Koolau Forest Protection

The Koolau Mountain forests supply groundwater for the Pearl Harbor Aquifer — used by over 40 percent of the population of the State of Hawaii. Unfortunately, groundwater levels in the aquifer have declined by half since 1910. Protecting the aquifer from further decline is vital for Hawaii’s sustainability and economy. The Koolau Mountains also has one of the highest densities of rare and endangered species in the world including the beloved ‘elepaio bird, the Hawaiian hoary bat, tree snails, insects and plants – many of which exist nowhere else in the world. By removing invasive species and fencing out feral pigs, this project will help protect water quality and supply for communities and agriculture and improve habitat quality for at-risk species while allowing native Hawaiians to use the forest for their traditional customs.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: NRCS - $195,000

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - TBD; NRCS - $195,000

Forest: State and Federal Forestry

Partners: Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources; Kamehameha School; Ohu Ohu Koolau/Koolau Mountains Watershed Partnership.

Idaho – Upper North Fork Project

Idaho’s Upper North Fork is a great example of a project that provides a big benefit for a small investment. Fires often spread from private property onto public lands where they are difficult to control and become wildfires. The simple fix is to stop fires at the point where they start, before they have a chance to spread. However, many private landowners do not have the technical knowledge or funds to treat hazardous fuels on their property. This project targets private lands where fires have a high probability of starting and adjacent National Forest lands where they will initially spread. Treating fuels in these areas is relatively inexpensive and protects a vast area of public land. Implementing this simple solution would be unlikely without coordination among the partners.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: $427,500

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $170,000; NRCS - $240,000

Forests: Salmon and Challis National Forests

Partners: Lemhi Forest Restoration Group; The North Fork Rural Fire Dept.; Lemhi County WUI, Idaho Fish & Game; Idaho Department of Highways. 

Illinois - Kinkaid Lake Watershed Restoration

Conservation management in the Kinkaid Lake watershed has been a partnership effort for many years. The cooperation and teamwork that has gone into this effort is truly inspiring and this funding opportunity is an excellent vehicle to move forward with landscape scale conservation. Kinkaid Lake is a 2,350 acre reservoir that provides potable water to about 30,000 people. Numerous studies have documented that the lake is deteriorating due to nonpoint sources of sediment and nutrients. The goal of this project is to improve water quality and water storage capacity by reducing the amount sediment and nutrients. The water supply watershed and habitat quality will be improved and wildfire threats will also be reduced.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS - $145,000; NRCS - $175,000

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $265,000; NRCS - $145,000

Forest: Shawnee National Forest

Partners: Kinkaid RCCD; Kinkaid Area Watershed Project; Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Shawnee RC&D; Jackson County SWCD Environmental Protection Agency. 

Minnesota - Lake Superior North Shore Coastal Forest Restoration Project

The watersheds of Lake Superior’s coastal forests are home to tributaries that impact the water quality of The Great Lakes, among the most important natural resources in the world. With more than 20 percent of the earth’s surface freshwater, they provide drinking water for 45 million people and habitat for a vast array of plants and wildlife, including more than 200 globally rare species. Spanning 295,000 square miles, the basin’s immense network of streams, lakes, wetlands and forests provides critical ecological services, such as water filtration, flood control, and carbon storage. In addition, the region offers unmatched opportunities for industry, tourism and recreation. The goal of this project is to expand current restoration efforts to protect the water quality of Lake Superior, provide critical wildlife habitat and develop a resilient ecosystem for the future.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS - $187,500; NRCS - $150,000

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $100,000; NRCS - $100,000

Forest: Superior National Forest

Partners: Sugarloaf: The North Shore Stewardship Association; Grand Portage Tribal Council; The Nature Conservancy; County Soil and Water Conservation Districts; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Missouri - Missouri Ozark Highlands Restoration Partnership

The Ozark Highlands are a globally-significant, diverse eco-region containing a variety of endemic species and unique habitats.  Public and private agencies have been working across the region for decades with varying priorities for outreach and management. This partnership will help unify the priorities across organizations and property boundaries by broadening the reach of conservation.  As landownership shifts in the Ozarks to smaller parcels owned by recreational landowners the need to address wildfire threats and management planning becomes increasingly important. This project will provide a safer environment, improve water quality, and enhance habitat conditions in a sustainable forested environment for the communities within the project area.  The resource management activities will also support local rural economies by providing jobs for loggers, mills, field contractors, consulting foresters, and seasonal technicians.  Clean water and healthy forests will continue to support outdoor tourism activities.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS - $446,250; NRCS - $400,100

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $125,000; NRCS - $500,000

Forest: Mark Twain National Forest

Partners: Missouri Department of Conservation; The Nature Conservancy; FWS; National Wild Turkey Federation; MFPA; NPS Ozark National Scenic Riverways; USDA National Agroforestry Center; Central Hardwoods Joint Venture; Missouri Forest Resources Advisory Council; Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Ohio - Collaborative Oak Management in the Ohio Appalachian Mountains

The forests of Appalachia are among the oldest and most biologically diverse forest systems in North America.  The unglaciated Ohio Hills in southeastern Ohio, part of the Appalachia, are dominated by an oak-hickory forest that many species depend upon, including at-risk species like the cerulean warbler, Kentucky warbler, wood thrush and worm-eating warbler.  The streams and rivers running through these forests are part of the Upper Ohio River Basin, globally outstanding for freshwater biological diversity, and the source of drinking water for southeastern Ohio communities. The latest Forest Inventory & Analysis data show shifts in forest composition and structure with a lack of oak regeneration and an overabundance of shade tolerant species in oak forest understories across the project area meaning less oak forests on the landscape in the near future without active management. The project goal is to coordinate inventory, management and monitoring of oak-hickory forests in seventeen counties in the unglaciated region of southeastern Ohio to improve efficiency and effectiveness for landscape scale management of oak-hickory forests. 

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS - $469,600; NRCS - $300,000

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $655,340 + TBD; NRCS - $300,000

Forest: Wayne National Forest

Partners: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; Appalachian Ohio Weed Control Partnership; Buckeye Hills Resource Conservation & Development; Forest Service TEAMS Enterprise Unit; Hocking College; Natural Resources Program Forestry Mgmt; Hocking Hills Woodland Landscape Stewardship Partners; Keep America Beautiful Southeast Ohio Affiliate; National Wild Turkey Federation; Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science; Northern Research Station Delaware Lab; Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative; Ohio Division of Wildlife; Ohio State University Extension; Ohio State University/NRS; The Nature Conservancy LANDFIRE Program; The Nature Conservancy Ohio Chapter; Athens and Vinton Soil & Water Conservation Districts.

Oregon - Ashland Forest All-Lands Restoration Project

The project proposes to implement forest restoration and fuels reduction treatments through a cross boundary, all-lands approach on federal and non-industrial private forest lands in and around the Ashland Creek Watershed in Jackson County, Oregon. Jackson County consistently experiences one of the highest occurrences of wildfire in Oregon and has suffered devastating losses to quality of life, property, natural resources, and community infrastructure. The project objectives are to reduce and mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality and supply in the watershed, and improve and protect quality wildlife habitat for threatened, endangered, and at- risk species in an area characterized by a high degree of public/private land interface.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS - $1,000,000; NRCS - $2,000,000

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $1,169,410; NRCS - $1,000,000

Forest: Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Partners: The Nature Conservancy; Jackson SWCD; City of Ashland; Oregon Department of Forestry; Lomakatsi Restoration Project.

South Carolina – Indian Creek Woodland Savanna Restoration Initiative (Sumter NF)

In 2004, the Indian Creek Woodland Savanna Restoration Initiative restored woodland savanna habitat on 8,300 acres of the Sumter National Forest as well as 7,700 acres of private land. Funding from this year’s announcement will help accelerate woodland savanna restoration, reduce wildfire risk and enhance water quality on 21,000 acres of public land and 19,000 acres of private land. The restoration will also provide crucial habitat for important and declining grassland birds, including Northern Bobwhite, Loggerhead Shrike, Prairie Warbler and Bachman’s Sparrow.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS - $140,000; NRCS - $179,600

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $140,000 + TBD; NRCS - $180,000

Forest: Sumter National Forest.

Partners: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; South Carolina Forest Commission; National Wild Turkey Federation; Clemson Extension Service.

South Dakota - Black Hills Vestal Project

The Black Hills historically has a very active fire workload, with frequent and large wildfire largely due to the Ponderosa Pine creating dense, decadent stands without active management.  The Vestal project completely surrounds the City of Custer, SD, encompassing over 5,000 primary residences within the project boundary and several hundred more primary residences immediately adjacent to the project. The project includes both mechanical vegetation treatments as well as prescribed burning to reduce the risk of wildfire.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS - $577,500; NRCS - $100,000

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $280,000; NRCS - $150,000

Forest: Black Hills National Forest

Partners: State of South Dakota; Custer County; City of Custer; Custer State Park

Texas - Texas Forest Ecosystem Improvement Project

The priority area consists of Montgomery, San Jacinto, Harris, Liberty and Walker Counties with a population of more than five million people. This area has experienced catastrophic fires in the last 5 years (over 1,000 homes destroyed in the Bastrop fire) and forest insect epidemics which destroyed tens of thousands of acres of mature and young pine stands on both private and federal forest lands. This project will reduce the wildfire risk in the wildland urban interface, directly improving conditions for numerous communities, homeowners, and non-industrial private forest landowners. Other populations who will benefit include hunters and recreation visitors.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS - $315,000; NRCS - $94,500

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $480,000 + TBD; NRCS - $22,000.

Forest: Sam Houston National Forest.

Partners: Texas A&M Forest Service; National Wild Turkey Federation; Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Utah - West Vernon Project

The goal for this project is to restore sage steppe ecosystems through the reduction of fuels while improving rangeland conditions and habitat quality for at risk species such as sage grouse. Hazardous fuels reduction treatments would also help minimize the risks to private land, structures, and natural resources, from potential wildland fires for the nearby community of Vernon. NRCS has already invested in this project. Additional funds from Forest Service will allow completion of the project.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS- $148,000

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $82,250

Forest: Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Partners: Diverse federal and non-federal partners represented through Utah Partners for Conservation and Development.

Vermont - Poultney-Mettowee Watershed Restoration Project

The Poultney Mettowee project is a relatively new collaboration between partners who have worked together for many years on other projects in the state. The goals of this partnership are to expand agency efforts to improve water quality in the Poultney-Mettowee watershed and Lake Champlain, restore riparian function and processes, and reconnect and enhance aquatic habitats while improving flood resiliency.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS -$150,000; NRCS - $200,000

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $272,000; NRCS - $200,000

Forest: Green Mountain National Forest

Partners: Poultney-Mettowee Natural Resource Conservation District; Trout Unlimited, New England Culvert Project; Trout Unlimited, Southwest Vermont Chapter; USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Aquatic Organism Passage Program; Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department; Vermont DEC River Management Program.

Washington - Northeast Washington Initiative

Eastern Washington has areas of worsening forest health conditions due to overcrowded, damaged trees that are susceptible to increased harm from insects, disease and wildfire. In 2014, over 380,000 acres burned in wildfires in Washington State, more than six times greater than the five-year average. Between 2000 and 2010, insects and diseases damaged 1.3 million acres per year in Washington, more than 1.5 times the annual average of the 1990s. Homes, developments and communities are increasingly interspersed within fire- prone landscapes, compounding fire impacts and presenting a danger to public safety. This project will reduce and mitigate wildfire threats to Colville National Forest land and adjacent private property in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. Accomplishing this work will also protect water quality and supply for communities and industry and protect habitat quality.

Fiscal year 2016 funding: USFS - $657,700; NRCS - $505,700

Fiscal year 2015 funding: USFS - $1,000,000; NRCS - $500,000

Forest: Colville National Forest

Partners: Washington Department of Natural Resources; Bureau of Land Management; Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; NE Washington Forestry Coalition; Conservation Northwest; Avista; Boise Cascade; Vaagen Bros Lumber Inc.