Saturday, January 21, 2012

Forest Service grants $52.2M to protect working forests, rural economies

Earlier in the week the U.S. Forest Service announced that it is granting $52.2 million for 17 conservation and working lands projects across the U.S. in 2012.

The Forest Legacy Program has protected 2.2 million acres through public-private partnership using federal and leveraged funds of more than $562 million. The program works with private landowners, states and conservation groups to promote sustainable, working forests. Forest Legacy is an important component of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative’s goal of conserving rural working farms, ranches, and forests by accelerating locally-driven landscape conservation priorities.

Intact forest lands supply timber products, wildlife habitat, soil and watershed protection, aesthetics, and recreational opportunities. However, as these areas are fragmented and disappear, so do the benefits they provide. Roughly 57 percent of the nation's forests are privately owned yet the country has lost 15 million acres of private working forests in the last 10 years with an additional 22 million acres projected to be at risk from development, wildfire and other threats in the next decade.

The Forest Legacy Program uses a competitive process to strategically select ecologically and socially important projects facing the greatest threat of conversion to other land uses. Projects that protect clean air and water, provide recreation, protect wildlife habitat, supports large-scale land conservation partnerships, and provide forest-related rural jobs receive strong consideration.

The state of Montana is the recipient of one the 13 major projects announced:

The Stimson Forestland project ($6.5 million) will permanently protect, through a conservation easement, 28,000 acres of highly productive timberland near Troy, Montana. The project area contains some of the best wildlife habitat in Montana, supporting eight federally listed or candidate threatened or endangered species and numerous other rare, sensitive and game species and is an America’s Great Outdoors priority landscape-scale conservation partnership. The proposed conservation easement would preclude development, ensure continued timber management, sustain local wood-product jobs, protect incredible wildlife habitat and key landscape connectivity and provide permanent public access to extraordinary recreation lands.

To view information on the other projects receiving grants, please click here.

Hiking in

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