Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the U.S. Forest Service will dedicate $40.6 million for 27 exceptional land acquisition projects in 15 states that will help safeguard clean water, provide recreational access, preserve wildlife habitat, enhance scenic vistas and protect historic and wilderness areas.
Projects funded are in Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Washington. Projects range from protecting nationally significant lands from threat of residential development in North Carolina to help pave the way to help purchase the largest single parcel of privately held land with the Kootznoowoo Wilderness on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
The money is made available through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, created by Congress in 1964 to provide funding to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands. The fund receives the majority of its money through royalty payments from offshore oil and gas revenues to mitigate the environmental impacts of those activities. Those funds also are augmented by additional money or in-kind services of a variety of partnerships.
Lands are purchased from willing sellers at fair-market value or through partial or outright donations of property. Landowners may also sell or donate easements on their property that restrict commercial development while keeping the land in private ownership.
Two projects were approved for the state of Montana:
• $2 million has been appropriated towards the Legacy Completion in the Lolo and Flathead National Forests: The project will enhance resource management within and adjacent to the Crown of the Continent by protecting healthy watersheds, diverse habitats for threatened and endangered species, and open space on a landscape-scale and public access to high quality recreation opportunities. This parcel is a part of the Montana Legacy project, one of the most ambitious conservation projects in modern Forest Service history and includes a 111,740 acre donation from conservation partners.
• $2 million was also appropriated towards the Tenderfoot (Part I) watershed project in the Lewis and Clark National Forest: The Tenderfoot watershed in Central Montana is remarkably diverse spanning areas from 3,200 feet elevations sub-alpine mountains to grass meadows and riparian areas. The acquisition parcels will provide high quality water and fisheries habitat for west slope cutthroat trout, and habitat for elk, moose, deer and many other wildlife species. The land offers incredible scenic views and extraordinary recreation opportunities, especially for anglers and hunters.
To see all of the projects approved for funding in 2012, please click here.
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