December 21, 2016

Madison, Wis., – Dec. 20, 2016 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced a new investment of $32 million to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public forests and grasslands connect to privately-owned lands.

Through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service will invest new funds in FY 2017 to add 10 new projects and support 26 partnership projects already underway. Federal, state and local partners will bring an additional $30 million through financial and in-kind contributions over three years to implement the newly added projects. With this funding, Joint Chiefs’ projects will extend to 29 states.

“This collaboration helps local partners meet the growing challenges that come 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,” said Tom Krapf, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs.

Through the Joint Chiefs’ partnership, USDA, Tribes, private landowners and others recently completed the Lake Superior Basin Landscape Restoration Project in Wisconsin, providing multiple natural resource benefits on public, private and Tribal lands. The nearly $4.4 million project improved and restored critical spawning habitat for brook trout by reducing sedimentation and removing in-stream barriers on 48 miles of rivers and streams; improved nesting habitat for Golden-winged warblers, Kirtland warblers and Sharp-tailed grouse on nearly 3,000 acres; and reduced hazardous fuels on more than 5,360 acres of public lands.

“The Lake Superior project and other Joint Chiefs’ projects show that smart, proactive investment in restoring forest ecosystems in these landscapes yields extraordinary benefits for landowners, communities, taxpayers and wildlife,” Krapf said.

For full project descriptions and information on completed projects, visit the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership website. Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water and enhancing wildlife habitat.