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The USDA-NRCS in North Carolina is Announcing a Second Sign-up for the Joint Chiefs Initiative.

A longleaf needle pine tree forest

The Joint Chiefs initiative is a great opportunity to collaborate with agricultural producers and forest landowners to invest in conservation and restoration at a big enough scale to make a difference. 

The United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) of North Carolina (N.C.) is announcing a second application date for all landowners interested in the Joint Chiefs Initiative. The application deadline is Apr. 21, 2023. 

The Joint Chief's Landscape Restoration Partnership enables N.C.-NRCS and the Forest Service to collaborate with agricultural producers and forest landowners to invest in conservation and restoration at a big enough scale to make a difference. Working in partnership, and at this scale, helps reduce wildfire threats, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.

Joint Chief’s project proposals are developed through a collaborative process between NRCS, Forest Service and partners. Past partners have included county, state, non-governmental, Tribal, utilities or private individual stakeholders. The collaboration process and partnerships will depend on the specific community needs of each project. Proposals are reviewed and vetted at multiple levels in the agencies based on local, state, Tribal and regional priorities.

In selecting proposals, N.C.-NRCS and the Forest Service will prioritize:     
•    Clear descriptions with goals and objectives, deliverables, timeline, and measurable desired outcomes.    
•    Reduction of wildfire risk in a municipal watershed or the wildland-urban interface (WUI). A municipal watershed is a watershed from which municipal water is provided by a utility. The WUI as defined by the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003 (16 U.S.C. 6511).     
•    Development of the proposal through a collaborative process with participation from diverse stakeholders.     
•    Increase of forest workforce capacity or forest business infrastructure and development.   
•    Leveraging existing authorities and non-federal funding contributions from partners.     
•    Support of established state, Tribal and regional priorities. Proposals should describe how the eligible activities were prioritized across the landscape and the source of the state or regional priorities (e.g., fireshed analysis, wildfire risk assessment, state technical committee watershed prioritization, Endangered Species Act recovery plan, state wildlife action plan, etc.).     
•    Alignment with USDA priorities and the Justice40 initiative, including benefits to historically underserved communities and climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.   
•    Partner participation in proposal development or project implementation.     
•    Coordination (i.e.-planning) with individual landowners within the proposal footprint. 
•    The geographic distribution of individual project activities across the landscape demonstrates a focus on resource conditions and a balance between land ownerships.     
•    Education and outreach to local communities about the project.  

N.C.-NRCS also provides other assistance through voluntary programs to eligible landowners and agricultural producers to provide financial and technical assistance to help manage natural resources in a sustainable manner.  Through these programs, the agency approves contracts to implement conservation practices that addresses natural resource concerns or opportunities to help save energy, improve soil, water, plant, air, animal, and related resources on agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land. To get started, please visit your local USDA Service Center.

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