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USDA Commits $32 Million to Protect Natural Resources through Joint Chiefs’ Partnership

Contact:
Rebecca Haddix
304-284-7545


USDA Commits $32 Million to Protect Natural Resources through Joint Chiefs’ Partnership

Morgantown, WV Dec. 21, 2016 – “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced a new investment of $32 million to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public forests and grasslands connect to privately-owned lands,” said Louis Aspey, State Conservationist for NRCS in WV.

Through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership (LRP), USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will invest the new funds in fiscal year 2017 to add 10 new projects and support 26 partnership projects already underway. Federal, state and local partners will bring an additional $30 million through financial and in-kind contributions over three years to implement the newly added projects. With this funding, Joint Chiefs’ projects will extend to 29 states.

“This collaboration helps local partners meet the growing challenges that come with protecting communities, watersheds, forests and woodlands from the devastating and costly impacts of wildfires and other threats, while protecting water resources, and improving wildlife habitat,” said Aspey.

West Virginia will receive $1,561,896 in fiscal year 2017 for the Appalachian Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (AERI). $526,612 will be allocated for projects in the Monongahela National Forest with $1,035,284 allocated to NRCS for projects on private working lands.

Through the Joint Chiefs’ partnership, USDA, private landowners, and others recently completed the West Virginia Restoration Venture (WVRV). The WVRV was instrumental in helping WV NRCS, the Monongahela National Forest (Monongahela), the WV Division of Forestry (WVDOF), and their partners to develop a new business model focused on implementing landscape-scale restoration goals through the creation of a restoration economy. Opportunities provided by the Joint Chiefs’ LRP funding in FY14- FY16 were maximized through leveraged contributions from partners in skills and expertise, staff and additional funds. Throughout the project, federal, state, and non-governmental organization partners coordinated their activities to achieve unprecedented levels of on-the-ground ecological, social and economic outcomes within the priority watersheds on federal, state, and private lands.

Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water, and enhancing wildlife habitat.

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