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News Release

Joint Chiefs Partnership to Focus Resources in the Central Appalachian Region

Contact:
Derek Hancock / Brandon Cole
(540) 795-3647 / (276) 484-9374


  An alternative watering system installed with NRCS assistance helps exclude cattle from waterways on this farm in Southwest Virginia (Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy).
  An alternative watering system installed with NRCS assistance helps exclude cattle from waterways on this farm in Southwest Virginia (Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy).

Richmond, Va., Feb. 15, 2022 – A new conservation collaboration in Central Appalachia will soon prove that good things really do come in threes. The three-year Eastern Divide Restoration Project is the third in the commonwealth to receive targeted funding through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service to integrate treatments on federal, state and private forested lands that support healthy ecosystems and improved water quality.

Over the past five years, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests have been a focal area for coordinated conservation in the Northern Shenandoah Mountains and biologically rich Upper and Lower Cowpasture watersheds in the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay. This latest Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership initiative encompasses 2,260,480 acres (3,532 square miles) of public and private lands in Botetourt, Craig, Roanoke, Giles, Bland, Pulaski, Wythe, Tazewell and Montgomery counties.

The NRCS portion will focus on Bland, Botetourt and Wythe counties with a project area that encompasses 440,724 acres in the national forest system and 1,819,756 acres of private lands. This recognized hotspot for biodiversity is home to 56 species of rare, threatened and endangered species and contains four of the main watersheds in Virginia (James, Roanoke, New and Clinch-Powell) as well as 559 miles of cold-water trout habitat.

“The Joint Chiefs’ Restoration Partnership is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when agencies work together across jurisdictional lines to address natural resource issues on a landscape scale,” said Virginia NRCS State Conservationist Dr. Edwin Martinez Martinez. “This investment in Virginia will support conservation and restoration in the commonwealth along with strengthening the resiliency of our lands.”

Agricultural producers and forest landowners interested in participating in this project should call or visit the Wytheville (Bland, Wythe) or Bonsack (Botetourt) offices to confirm their eligibility and submit applications by April 1, 2022, to be eligible for $994,655 in FY2022 funding. Once approved, they will work with NRCS conservationists and project partners to apply targeted livestock, wildlife and forestry management practices such as pasture and hay planting, fence, riparian forest buffer, early successional habitat management, forest stand improvement, prescribed grazing and prescribed burning.  

NRCS and USFS are investing more than $48 million in 41 projects, including 17 new ones, to improve forest health using available Farm Bill conservation programs and other authorities. Full project descriptions and information on completed projects is available on the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership web page.