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News Release

Funding available to help central Wasco County forestland owners improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk

Release No: 2021-02-002

                                                    Contact:
Lauren Bennett, NRCS Public Affairs
503-414-3220
lauren.bennett2@usda.gov

Heather Ibsen, Mt. Hood National Forest
503-668-1791
heather.ibsen@usda.gov

Funding available to help central Wasco County forestland owners improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk
Apply for financial assistance by April 16

The Dalles, Ore. – (February 16, 2021) – Private forestland owners in central Wasco County can reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and improve their forest health with conservation assistance available from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Forest Service. Applications for the current round of funding are due by April 16, 2021.

This forest restoration effort, called the Central Wasco County All-Lands Project, is funded by the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Initiative. The Joint Chiefs initiative is a partnership between two USDA agencies - NRCS and the Forest Service - that reduces wildfire risk on both public and private forests. NRCS is offering assistance to help private landowners treat and improve their woods and forests; the Forest Service will be performing similar restoration on the federal side of the project boundary in the Mt. Hood National Forest.

“Forestland threats such as wildfire and disease know no bounds,” said Garrett Duyck, NRCS acting district conservationist in The Dalles. “Working across public and private land boundaries is key to increase forest resiliency and protect our forestlands.”

“The completed work will restore pine and oak habitat and riparian areas, improve conditions for wildlife, and reduce the risk of fires spreading from public lands to neighboring non-federal lands,” said Kameron Sam, Mt. Hood National Forest District Ranger for the Barlow and Hood River Ranger Districts.  “We look forward to getting work done on the ground that benefits the forest and our neighboring communities.”

Project funding will help forestland owners implement conservation practices, such as forest stand improvement and woody residue treatment. Project goals are to improve landscape resiliency to disease and disturbance and to restore ecological function in Oregon white oak habitats for associated plant and wildlife species.

Forest stand improvement utilizes practices that guide or influence a forest stand to meet a particular objective, such as improving habitat for various wildlife species, reducing the risk of unwanted fire, or influencing the stand structure to meet landowner objectives. It can help to reduce the risk of unwanted wildfire, while also creating greater resiliency to potential stressors.

Planned woody residue treatments will move forest stands towards more historic conditions by reducing stocking levels through thinning, mastication, and prescribed burning. This project incorporates high-hazard, high-risk communities as identified in the Wasco County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).

The Central Wasco County All-Lands project started in 2020 and will continue through 2022, targeting restoration on nearly 47,740 acres of state, federal and private forestland in Wasco County.

Collaborating project partners include NRCS, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wasco County Soil and Water District, and Wasco County Forest Collaborative.

Interested landowners should submit applications by April 16 to The Dalles Service Center field office (2325 River Road, #3, The Dalles, OR 97058) to be considered for the current round of funding.

For more information, contact Garrett Duyck, NRCS Acting District Conservationist at 541-298-8559 x113, or Garrett.Duyck@usda.gov.

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