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Feds fund Northwest national forest colaborative groups

PUBLIC LANDS -- Colaborative groups from nine states -- including Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon --  garnered $22 million for national forest projects last week.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the funding for Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration projects that promote healthier, safer and more productive public lands through partnership efforts which will reduce wildfire risk, enhance fish and wildlife habitats and maintain and improve water quality across all lands.

Wilderness efforts also factor into the mix.

Read on for details about the funded projects, including the Clearwater Colaborative.

"The best way to improve the health of our nation's forests is to work across boundaries with an all-lands approach," said Vilsack. "We're pleased to support projects that are actively encouraging the restoration of our priority forest landscapes while creating green jobs and economic opportunity in rural communities."

Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration projects accomplish a variety of U.S. Forest Service priorities including watershed restoration while supporting sustainable and fire-adapted communities through partnerships at the state, local and private level. The President's 2012 budget includes funding for these projects as part of the broader Integrated Resource Restoration approach to restoring the nation's forests and grasslands.

"Working together is how we do business," said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "We will continue to encourage greater public involvement to maintain and restore healthy landscapes. We not only are taking care of the ecosystem, but also supporting healthy, thriving communities through collaborative forest restoration."

The 10-year restoration projects were selected and began to receive funding in 2010. Projects are located in nine states:

Four Forest Restoration Initiative: Arizona – $3.5 million
This initiative, located on the Apache-Sitgraeves, Kaibab, Coconino and Tonto National Forests, focuses on the restoration of the southwestern ponderosa pine ecosystem and will treat up to 50,000 acres per year. The project will engage new industry to insure that nearly all of the cost of removal of the thinning byproducts is covered by the value of the products.
The Dinkey Landscape Restoration Project: California – $415,500
The Dinkey Project includes 130,000 acres on the Sierra National Forest and 20,000 acres of private land. Targeted ecosystems include coniferous forest, foothill hardwood and chaparral vegetation, meadows and riparian forests. The project aims to create resilient ecosystems and enhance the ability to adapt to wildfire

Colorado Front Range Restoration Initiative: Colorado –$3.5 million
The Colorado Front Range Landscape Restoration Initiative, located in the Arapaho, Roosevelt, Pike and San Isabel National Forests, seeks to increase resilience to insects and lower wildfire risk in a ponderosa pine forest ecosystem. These more resilient forests will also have increased capacity to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.

Uncompahgre Plateau Restoration Initiative: Colorado – $930,500
The Uncompahgre Plateau includes restoration of several plant types on 160,000 treatment acres and includes key watersheds that feed the Colorado River. Multiple techniques to control the spread of invasive noxious weeds will be used, including chemical and biological control measures critical to restoration and preventive measures to control invasive species.

The Accelerating Longleaf Pine Restoration Project: Florida –$1.3 million
This project in Northeast Florida is comprised of over 230,000 acres in the Osceola National Forest. The project seeks to restore forest ecosystems that have been significantly altered by fire exclusion and hydrologic alteration.

The Selway-Middle Fork Clearwater Project: Idaho – $3.5 million
The Selway-Middle Fork Clearwater Project is a joint effort between the Clearwater Basin Collaborative and the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests. The restoration project protects communities from wildfire and restores land and water ecosystems.

Southwestern Crown of the Continent Restoration Initiative: Montana – $3.5 million
The Southwestern Crown covers 1,449,670 acres, 70 percent of which is public land including the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Restoration will focus on stream and forest habitats using prescribed fire and natural ignitions as tools to restore species composition and structure.

Southwest Jemez Mountains Restoration Initiative: New Mexico – $2.4 million
The Southwest Jemez Mountains area is 210,000 acres, 93 percent of which is divided between the Santa Fe National Forest and the Valles Caldera Trust-Valles National Preserve. The project will improve the resilience of ecosystems to recover from wildfires and other natural disturbance and sustain healthy forests and watersheds.

The Deschutes Skyline Restoration Project: Oregon – $720,500
This project is located on 97,000 acres in the Deschutes National Forest. The majority of the landscape is ponderosa pine and dry mixed conifer forest types. The goal of the project is to restore forest ecosystems and help to achieve a variety of community goals such as job creation.

The Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative: Washington – $2.2 million
The Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative aims to enhance the resilience and sustainability of forests by treating over 168,000 acres over ten years. The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest restoration strategy uses treatment methods including pre-commercial and commercial thinning including biomass removal, prescribed fire of natural and activity fuels, and trail management activities.
The U.S. Forest Service mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land and is the world's largest forestry research organization.  

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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