Lolo project part of $12 million wildfire mitigation risk
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: March 20, 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 targeted projects on both public and private lands in nine states. 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.

Vicki Christiansen, Chief of the Forest Service, and Matthew Lohr, Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, highlighted 13 new projects where the two agencies will work hand-in-hand with agricultural producers and forest landowners to improve forest health using available Farm Bill conservation programs and other authorities.

“Forests stretch across the landscape—public, tribal, and private lands—and these projects aim to enhance, treat, and accelerate forest restoration to improve the health and diversity of these forests,” said Chief Christiansen.

The Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership enables NRCS and the Forest Service to leverage technical and financial assistance collaboratively alongside agricultural producers and forest landowners to help reduce wildfire threats, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.

“With the help of USDA, producers can improve their forestry operations while realizing many other benefits, including mitigating impacts from wildfires, improving water quality, and wildlife habitat,” said Chief Lohr.

 

About the Projects: The 13 new projects include:

  • Bradshaw Cross Boundary, Arizona
  • Western Arkansas – SE Oklahoma Woodland Restoration, Arkansas
  • Central Sierra Recovery and Restoration, California
  • Rural Community Fire Projection and Forest Management, California
  • Yreka Craggy Project, California
  • Northern Front Range Collaboration Watershed Resilience Project, Colorado
  • Mesabi Project, Minnesota
  • Wildfire Adapted Missoula, Montana
  • Elk Creek Watershed Restoration Partnership, Oregon
  • Chiloquin Community Forest and Fire Project, Oregon
  • Wonder Community Project, Wyoming
  • Nolichucky / Upper French Broad Joint Watershed Restoration, Tennessee
  • Buffalo Municipal Watershed Landscape Restoration, Wyoming

During the new three-year projects, landowners will work with local USDA experts 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 in their area.

This year’s projects build on 17 ongoing projects launched in 2017 and 2018.  Federal, state, and local partners plan to invest an additional $18 million through financial and in-kind contributions to continue existing projects.

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

 

Successful Partnerships

A partnership that has demonstrated success over the past two years is the recently completed Arizona Prescott Basin Cross Boundary Project which netted extraordinary benefits on private lands. This project helped protect 28,000 homes for more than 53,000 residents from wildfires, implemented land management strategies on 8,600 acres of public and private land, and improved critical habitat for the Mexican Spotted Owl.

Similarly, the West Virginia Restoration Venture reduced wildfire risk by removing hazardous fuels using controlled burns on 962 acres of oak hickory forests. This project also improved water quality by establishing cover along 56 miles of stream, restored natural hydraulic processes by connecting 49 miles of stream, and planted 80,000 seedlings to enhance habitat for the threatened Cheat Mountain salamander, West Virginia northern flying squirrel, and snowshoe hare.

 

More Information

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.

 

Wildfire Adapted Missoula (WAM) Project

Montana – This project is made up of 454,000 acres of land including 167,000 acres in the Lolo National Forest. Wildfires across the project area in the last 15 years have had impacts on communities and native wildlife. The Rattlesnake Municipal Watershed is in the project area and it serves 72,000 people as a backup watershed for Missoula residents. The areas is also home to iconic and at risk species such as the Canada Lynx, Grizzly Bear, and Bull Trout. The project will support implementation of a targeted Community Wildfire Protection Plan including activities to restore and maintain wildfire resilient landscapes across boundaries, reduce hazardous fuels within the community and a general protection zone, and increase the margin of safety for wildland fire responders and the public.

Partners Include:

Total FY 2019 Funding – $479,865 NRCS – $177,338 Forest Service – $302,527