The federal government is funding a new initiative with $780,000 aimed at lowering wildfire risks and improving forest health in the eastern Cascades this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday.
The funding is intended to boost existing efforts by the Forest Service, state, Yakama Nation and conservation and community groups to reduce fuel and work on habitat protection projects in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and neighboring lands.
It’s one piece of a $40 million national program in which the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Forest Service are collaborating to restore forest land near communities by working on public and private lands.
A 2014 study found that 1.2 million acres on the eastern slopes of the Cascades are in need of restoration, and at the current pace of thinning and logging, it will take decades to meet that need.
“The health of our forests and vitality of rural communities goes hand in hand,” Roylene Rides at the Door, Natural Resources Conservation Service’s state conservationist for Washington, said in a news release.
“The (project) in Washington employs an ‘All Hands’ approach, bringing together financial and technical resources from state and federal agencies, as well as tribes, local municipalities, and non-governmental organizations – all with common goals to reduce wildfire threats, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat,” Rides at the Door said.
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