USDA Invests More than $48.6 Million to Manage Risks, Combat Climate Change

 

February 23, 2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest more than $48.6 million this year through the Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership for projects that mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality, restore forest ecosystems, and ultimately contribute to USDA's efforts to combat climate change. This year, the USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest in projects, including 14 new projects, bringing together agricultural producers, forest landowners, and National Forest System lands to improve forest health using available Farm Bill conservation programs and other authorities.

"The need for cross-boundary wildfire risk reduction work as part of our Wildfire Crisis Strategy is more urgent than ever. These projects, and the $930 million of investments being made across 21 landscapes in highest-risk firesheds in the western U.S., speak to our commitment to improve forest health and resiliency across the nation's forests to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire," said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. "We have long moved beyond wildfire seasons to fire years, with an annual average of 8 million acres burned since 2015; more than 10 million acres burned in three of those years. The Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership promotes cross-boundary work needed to increase the scale of our wildfire risk reduction efforts to protect people and communities, critical infrastructure, water supplies, and ecosystems from extreme wildfire."

NRCS Chief Terry Cosby added: "These Joint Chiefs' projects are excellent examples of how federal, state, and local agencies can use targeted funding to achieve results that meet producers' conservation goals, build drought resiliency, and mitigate climate change. Through collaboration and strategic investments in local communities, we continue to work with the Forest Service to respond to significant conservation needs on private and public lands."

The Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership enables the Forest Service and NRCS to collaborate with agricultural producers and forest landowners to invest in conservation and restoration at a large enough scale to make a difference. Working in partnership, and at this scale, helps reduce wildfire threats to communities and critical infrastructure, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.

Congress recently recognized the value of this important USDA program by memorializing it in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021. The law includes enhanced collaboration and public engagement associated with future projects. The Forest Service and NRCS look forward to supporting the now permanent Joint Chiefs' program to enhance the resilience of our forests, communities, water supplies, and working lands.

USDA is investing $17.4 million in these 14 new projects:

Arizona, Fort Huachuca Sentinel Landscape Phase Two

Arkansas and Oklahoma, Arklahoma Ozark Watershed Restoration

California, Forest Health and Fire Resilient Rural Communities Phase Three

Guam, Making Southern Guam Firewise and Wildfire Resistant

Idaho, South Teton

 

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