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News Release

USDA Invests Millions in Wildfire Mitigation and Water Quality Projects through Joint Chiefs’ Partnership

Contact:
Edwin Almodóvar, Caribbean Area Director
787-281-4836 / 787-370-2703


Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration PartnershipMore than $225,000 of that funding will support a forestry project in 6 Puerto Rico watersheds impacted by Hurricane María

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest nearly $32 million this year to mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality and restore healthy forest ecosystems in 24 states and Puerto Rico.

Since 2013, USDA has invested $176 million in 56 Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership projects, which focus on areas where public forests and grasslands intersect with privately-owned lands.

“Through Joint Chiefs, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with agricultural producers and forest landowners to improve forest health using available Farm Bill conservation programs, and the Forest Service enhances forest health on public lands -- stitching together a larger footprint of healthy ecosystems in priority areas,” said NRCS Caribbean Area Director, Edwin Almodóvar.

“Hurricanes and wildfires are a serious and on-going threat to forests and communities alike, as we’ve seen in the Caribbean and California this year,” said Dr. Ariel Lugo, Director of the International Institute of Tropical Forestry. “Through these Joint Chief’s projects, USDA will be working with local partners in high-risk project areas to control invasive species, install fire breaks and implement other targeted forest management practices to help mitigate the risk of storms and wildfires.”

Along with mitigating fire risk, Joint Chiefs’ projects work to improve water quality by restoring healthy forests and grasslands.

Strategic investments across landscapesIn the Caribbean Area, the funding will support a Landscape-scale Restoration Initiative to Establish Biological Corridors and Restore Ecosystem Functionality in six of Puerto Rico’s watersheds impacted by Hurricane María. The project will address soil erosion, water quality and soil health, fire mitigation, and habitat improvement for at-risk species. The project will implement conservation practices such as vegetation establishment and tree planting, erosion control, nutrient and waste management, firebreak and windbreak establishment, native species propagation for agroforestry and forest enhancement, habitat restoration for targeted species, debris and obstruction removal, and many others. These actions will mitigate the impacts of extreme events. Project partners include: USDA-FS International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF); Caribbean Area NRCS; Envirosurvey, Inc.; Cafiesencia, Inc; Protectores de Cuencas, Inc.; Puerto Rico Conservation Trust; Para la Naturaleza; and the USFWS Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office.

Private woodland owners in these project areas may be eligible for financial assistance from the NRCS to help them perform forest conservation practices on their land. Contact your local USDA Service Center to learn more.

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Release No. 2018-06

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