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$48M to protect communities from wildfire, restore ecosystems, improve drinking water

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News from the USDA 

BOZEMAN — USDA is committed to working across land ownership boundaries to reduce risks before disasters occur. Building on the announcement of the Forest Service’s 10-year strategy and implementation plan for confronting the wildfire crisis, today USDA is announcing more than $48 million of investments by the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service this year through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership for projects that will mitigate wildfire risk, protect water quality, improve wildlife habitat, restore forest ecosystems and ultimately contribute to USDA’s efforts to combat climate change.

Congress recently recognized the value of this important USDA program by making it permanent in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden. The Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership enables NRCS and the Forest Service to collaborate with agricultural producers and forest landowners to invest in conservation and restoration at a big enough scale to make a difference.

“Many partners across Montana have been collaborating for improved forest health and reduced wildfire risk. The Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership is one more piece in that puzzle,” said Tom Watson, NRCS State Conservationist for Montana. “Together, we are overcoming the boundaries between private and public lands to enhance the resilience of our forests, communities, water supplies, and working lands. These Joint Chiefs projects are excellent examples of how agencies can work together and use targeted funding to achieve dramatic conservation improvements that benefit natural resources, build drought resiliency and address the climate crisis.”

This year, the Forest Service and NRCS will invest in 41 projects, including $15.3 million for 17 new projects, bringing together agricultural producers, forest landowners, and national forests and grasslands to improve forest health using available Farm Bill conservation programs and other authorities. The announcement includes four projects in Montana: Connecting Fuels Treatments in the Salish Mountains and Whitefish Range; Fire Adapted Bitterroot; Gallatin Valley Resiliency and Watershed Health; Libby Surround Stewardship.

Through these 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.  


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