The projects, located in Colorado and South Dakota, are two of the 15 recipients of the Chiefs’ Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership projects for 2015 announced by Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie Feb. 19.
“We are honored that the Chiefs’ Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership has selected two projects in the Rocky Mountain Region,” said Dan Jiron, Regional Forester. “These projects allow us to collaboratively achieve more in restoration toward safer communities, healthier watersheds, and improved public and private lands across the Region.”
The Forest Service and NRCS partnered projects in Colorado and South Dakota will help mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species in high priority landscapes. With these two projects, NRCS and Forest Service will invest nearly $1.3 million in the Region to improve conditions on public and private lands.
“The Natural Resources Conservation Service is honored and committed to the “all lands” landscape scale restoration here in Colorado. We look forward to addressing our most pressing conservation issues with our Forest Service colleagues,” said Clint Evans, NRCS State Conservationist in Colorado.
These projects build on existing projects and partnerships. By leveraging technical and financial resources and coordinating activities on adjacent public and private lands, conservation work by NRCS and FS is more efficient and effective.
“We are thrilled to have been awarded one of the Chiefs’ Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership projects for 2015,” Stated Jeff Zimprich, South Dakota State Conservationist USDA NRCS. “This will provide an opportunity to work in a more seamless fashion across boundaries. Natural resources don’t distinguish ownership boundaries between private, state or federal lands. Approaching land management with combined efforts will allow for us to see landscape scale impact, and as a land manager that excites me. Resilient forests and improved watersheds and soils benefit everyone now and into the future.”
2015 Projects include:
Colorado - San Juan Project (San Juan NF)
Fuel hazard in the project area is considered moderate to extreme. Heavily populated communities adjacent to and within treatments are at high risk of uncharacteristic wildfire. Treatments would reduce dense shrub cover through mastication and reduce tree density through selective thinning in order to mitigate uncharacteristic wildfire behavior and improve forest health. Strategic location of treatments within the watershed will also protect the Dutton ditch drainage and Pagosa Lakes, which are domestic water sources for the majority of the Archuleta County population. FY 2015 funding: USFS - $611,000; NRCS - $248,500.
Partners: San Juan Conservation District; Colorado State Forest Service; Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association; San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership; Mountain Studies Institute; Hidden Valley and Eagle Peak Ranch Subdivisions.
South Dakota - Black Hills Vestal Project (Black Hills NF)
The Black Hills historically has a very active fire workload, with frequent and large wildfire largely due to the Ponderosa Pine creating dense, decadent stands without active management. The Vestal project completely surrounds the City of Custer, SD, encompassing more than 5,000 primary residences within the project boundary and several hundred more primary residences immediately adjacent to the project. The project includes both mechanical vegetation treatments as well as prescribed burning to reduce the risk of wildfire. FY 2015 funding: USFS - $280,000; NRCS - $150,000.
Partners: State of South Dakota; Custer County; City of Custer; Custer State Park
Summaries of all projects selected can be found here.