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News Release

NRCS, Forest Service partner to overcome natural resource challenges in West Virginia

Collaborative efforts in restoration venture expected to strengthen ecosystem improvements in three watersheds

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va., February 7, 2014 – Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie announced a multi-year partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet across the nation.  The announcement is part of the Obama Administration's Climate Action Plan to responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and put America on track to a cleaner environment.

The Chiefs’ Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership will invest $30 million in 13 projects in 12 states across the country in 2014 to help reduce wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality - and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at - risk species.  Additional funding will be available in future years.

“The West Virginia Restoration Venture is a great way to leverage the technical and financial resources by collaborating with not only the Forest Service, but also with our non-federal partners across the state, ”NRCS State Conservationist Kevin Wickey said.  “For decades, NRCS has worked jointly with the Forest Service to collect resource data and develop assessment tools.  Byworking together, we are able to provide more focused and efficient assistance to help public and private landowners and managers put conservation solutions on the ground here in West Virginia.”

Partners will coordinate restoration activities to improve habit at connectivity, ecosystem restoration, improved soil health, climate change adaptation, carbon sequestration, improve water quality, increased threatened and endangered and at-risk species habitat, wetland restoration, aquatic habitat and watershed restoration, improved soil data and interpretations, ecological site descriptions, reduced sedimentation, and restoration of historic fire regimes through the use of prescribed fire.  The outcomes anticipated through this public/private partnership will provide a continuing and improving domestic water supply and improved outdoor recreation experiences through ecosystem restoration and increased diversity of flora and fauna.

"Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of West Virginia’s forests and grasslands today and for generations to come,” said Clyde Thompson, Monongahela National Forest Supervisor.  “Each agency has a common goal and will bring something valuable to the table in this effort.  Joining with non-federal agencies also committed to improving ecosystems will also strengthen improvement endeavors.”

Joining NRCS and the Forest Service are Monongahela National Forest, Trout Unlimited (TU), the Nature Conservancy (TNC), and Canaan Valley Institute (CVI).  All agencies are committed to restoring the health of local forests and grasslands.

“Residents and visitors alike treasure our magnificent forests and streams, but our natural lands face a lot of challenges” said Rodney Bartgis, state director of the Nature Conservancy in West Virginia.  “This partnership will give a much - needed boost to the groups working together to restore and protect them.”

For more information, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/wv/home/.