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News Release

NRCS and Forest Service Partner to Resolve and Improve Forest Health

USDA NRCS Oregon News Release

Release No. 2014.2.004

Sara Magenheimer
State Public Affairs Officer, NRCS

Tom Knappenberger
Media Liaison, Pacific NW Region, U.S. Forest Service

Portland, Ore. (Feb. 7, 2014) – The Natural Resources Conservation Service announced 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. In Oregon, the East Face of the Elkhorns, outside of Baker City and LaGrande, has been selected to participate in the partnership effort.

“Both of these agencies have the same goal – improving the health of our forest lands,” Ron Alvarado, NRCS State Conservationist 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 and over $2.6 million in Oregon, 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.
“These landscapes are critical to our communities and preserving and protecting them is not only the right thing to do, it is fundamental to ensuring their existence for future generations," said Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Kent  Connaughton.

“Wildfires and water quality don’t stop at boundaries between public and private lands,” Alvarado said. “By working together, we can provide more assistance to help public and private landowners and managers put conservation solutions on the ground. These practices will provide benefits to this local area by mitigating wildfire threats, improving wildlife habitat and protecting  the area’s water supply.”

In Oregon, the project will focus on the East Face of the Elkhorn Mountains.  Funding will be targeted on the landscape to augment and increase fuels reduction activities on adjoining private,  federal and state lands. The East Face area contains high to very high wildfire potential on both public and private land. This goal of this work is to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire to a number of private residences across three separate Wildand Urban Interfaces. This will also reduce the threat of wildlfire to the watersheds that contain the municiple water supply for La Grande and Baker City. The project area also contains key habitat for federally threatened bulltrout, steelhead and Chinook salmon.

To support the delivery of this technical and financial assistance to private forest landowners, NRCS and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) have entered into a partnership to support landowners work related to forest stand improvement practices in this key area. Please contact you local NRCS Service Center for additional information.

Baker City:  541-523-7121, ext. 115           
LaGrande: 541-963-4178, ext. 108

Summaries of all projects selected can be found here,

The agencies are reviewing additional sites for the partnership to collaborate in the future and will continue to capitalize on NRCS and FS overlying priorities and programs.





Originally established by Congress in 1935 as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), NRCS has expanded to become a conservation leader for all natural resources, ensuring private lands are conserved, restored, and more resilient to environmental challenges.  The NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems.


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