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News Release

USDA Investing Millions in Wildfire Mitigation and Water Quality Projects Through Joint Chiefs’ Partnership

Projects will restore healthy forests on private and public lands in 24 states

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 2014, 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 Leonard Jordan, acting NRCS chief.

This year the Joint Chiefs’ partner USDA agencies are providing $2.9 million to fund seven new projects and $29 million to support 21 ongoing partnership projects. Federal, state, and local partners will bring an additional $12 million through financial and in-kind contributions over three years to implement the newly added projects. These contribute to jobs and economic benefits that sustain rural communities.

“Wildfires are a serious and on-going threat to forests and communities alike, as we’ve seen in northern and southern California this year,” said Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke. “Through these Joint Chiefs’ 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 widespread wildfires.”

Along with mitigating fire risk, Joint Chiefs’ projects work to improve water quality by restoring healthy forests and grasslands. For example, one of the new 2018 projects, Sublette County Forest Collaborative: Working Together for Forest Health, specifically addresses protecting the sole drinking water source of Pinedale, Wyoming, near the Bridger Teton National Forest.  The project area includes lands managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, State of Wyoming and private landowners in Sublette County, Wyoming. In addition to improving water quality, project goals include providing fire protection for rural residents, restoring aspens, and habitat improvements for mule deer, greater sage-grouse and pronghorn. USDA will invest more than $700,000 in this project in 2018.

For full project descriptions and information on completed projects, visit the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership website.