Saint Paul, MINN., March. 22, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest more than $12 million this year to mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality and restore healthy forest ecosystems through 13 targeted projects on both public and private lands, including one in Minnesota. Since 2014, USDA has invested $213 million in 69 Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership projects, which focus on areas where public forests and grasslands intersect with privately-owned lands.
The Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership enables the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Forest Service to leverage technical and financial assistance collaboratively alongside agricultural producers and forest landowners in Minnesota to help reduce wildfire threats, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.
“With the help of NRCS, producers can improve their forestry operations while realizing many other benefits, including mitigating impacts from wildfires, improving water quality, and wildlife habitat,” said Troy Daniell, NRCS State Conservationist in Minnesota.
The Mesabi Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Project in northeast Minnesota encompasses approximately 257,000 acres of federal, private and Tribal lands, about 32 percent of which is made up of wetlands. Joint Chiefs’ funding will help partners improve riparian areas to support wildlife habitat, improve hydraulic functions, control erosion, and increase stream shading. Partners will also mitigate harmful fuel loads to reduce the potential for extreme fire, enhance wildlife habitat and improve vegetation conditions. To further support the management of forest health, educational efforts on hazardous fuels buildup will be targeted to family woodland owners near the Superior National Forest.
During the new three-year projects, landowners will work with local USDA experts, both NRCS and Forest Service, and partners to apply targeted forestry management practices on their land, such as thinning, hazardous fuel treatments, fire breaks and other systems, to meet unique forestry challenges inMinnesota. Total funding for the project is more than $60,000 with about equal amounts coming from the NRCS and Forest Service.
Ag producers and forest landowners interested in a project to mitigate wildfire risk should contact their local USDA service center to see if their land is eligible. More information is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xEsyY.
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