By Mike Beacom
Conservation districts are partners in half of the 2017 Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership (LRP) projects announced in December. Through the program, the U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) strive to work together to restore landscapes, reduce wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality and enhance wildlife habitat.
In 2017, five LRP projects in California, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, and Virginia will work with local conservation districts.
California’s Coarsegold Resource Conservation District (RCD) will help the Cascadel Woods neighborhood reduce the risk of wildfire by removing dead trees adjacent to evacuation routes. “We also plan to spend part of the money in other communities in our district to help elderly/low-income homeowners remove dead trees within 100 feet of their homes,” said Coarsegold RCD Executive Director Anne Melrose.
In Nebraska, the Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District will provide conservation grade seedlings to producers to reforest burned areas – most of which were damaged by 2012 fires. Participants can purchase these seedlings for 75 cents and plant them as windbreaks or to create new forest stands.
This year, the Forest Service and NRCS will invest more than $10 million in 10 new LRP projects located in nine states. Since 2014, USDA has invested more than $139 million in 49 projects, across 36 states.
“This collaboration helps local partners meet the growing challenges faced by all stakeholders that comes 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,” USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie said.
Summaries of this year’s 10 projects can be viewed on the NRCS website.