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News Release

Natural Resources Conservation Service and Forest Service Partnership to Help Prevent Wildfire in Eastern Washington

SPOKANE, WA (April 20, 2015)  – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recently announced a half million in investment to mitigate wildfire threats to landowners and communities in Eastern Washington. This is the first year of a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and NRCS in Washington State to help improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet.

As part of the Chiefs’ Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership project for 2015, NRCS, USFS and Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), will work together to offer technical and financial assistance in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties to reduce the risk of such catastrophic fires, improve forest health, and help small private forest landowners treat excessive fuels on their forestland.

Eastern Washington has areas of worsening forest health conditions due to overcrowded, damaged trees that are susceptible to increased harm from insects, disease and wildfire. In 2014, over 380,000 acres burned in wildfires in Washington State, more than six times greater than the five-year average. Between 2000 and 2010, insects and diseases damaged 1.3 million acres per year in Washington, more than 1.5 times the annual average of the 1990s. Homes, developments and communities are increasingly interspersed within fire- prone landscapes, compounding fire impacts and presenting a danger to public safety. This project will reduce and mitigate wildfire threats to Colville National Forest land and adjacent private property in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.

Small Private Forest landowners may work with either NRCS or DNR. DNR will be offering financial and technical assistance with thinning, pruning, slash treatment and forest management planning. Treatment through DNR will be focused on parcels that are 20 acres and less and the forest management planning on 40 acres or more.

NRCS will focus their treatments on parcels 20 acres or more, and will offer forest practices such as fuel break, forest stand improvements, tree and shrub pruning, and woody residue treatment.

Interested landowners should contact NRCS prior to the application deadline, at (509) 685-0858 extension 115, which has been set for May 21, 2015.  Those who would like to work with DNR should call (509) 684-7474.

To learn about EQIP and other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or your local USDA Service Center.

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