“In the second year of the SWCC’s efforts, an estimated, 239 full and part-time jobs have been created or maintained, contributing approximately $12.6 million dollars of labor income annually,” boasts Gebert.
Gebert estimated the number of jobs from restoration work ranging from forest thinning to bridge replacements to noxious weed treatments, using a nationally accepted economic model.
Today in Washington, DC Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell highlighted the SWCC as a vital program (http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2012/releases/07/firedanger.shtml ) supporting the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative. The SWCC is one of 10 Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) projects nationally (http://www.fs.fed.us/restoration/CFLRP/index.shtml ). The SWCC is a diverse group of conservation, economic development, government, rural community, and forest products industry partners that came together out of a shared commitment to the Southwestern Crown of the Continent (SW Crown) landscape. This landscape comprises the Blackfoot, Clearwater, and Swan River valleys on the Helena, Lolo and Flathead National Forests. In 2010, the SWCC was selected in a competitive process to receive up to $4 million annually for 10 years to implement and monitor collaboratively developed fuel reduction and restoration projects. Under the CFLR programs these federal funds must be matched one-to-one, thus resulting in an $8 million investment in the landscape annually.
In the first two years of the CFLR program the SWCC has sold 32 million board feet (MMBF) of sawtimber and 138,311 green tons of biomass. Fuels have been reduced on 2,783 acres of wildland urban interface, 18,834 acres of weeds have been treated, and 19 miles of streams have been restored, to name a few restoration accomplishments.
Some of the jobs created through the SWCC’s work come in the form of partnership agreements, such as an agreement between the Forest Service and the Montana Conservation Corps (MCC; http://www.mtcorps.org ) to perform trail maintenance work in the SW Crown landscape. One of the SWCC’s 10-year goals is to maintain and improve 280 miles of trails. With help from MCC, the SWCC has already accomplished 268 miles of trail restoration in the first two years of the program. Many of the MCC crew members are aspiring natural resource professionals gaining valuable field experience at this early stage in their careers. Kaitlin Burroughs, an MCC crew leader, just returned from a nine day hitch in the backcountry. “We are packed in and out by mules,” she said. “The work is really hard, but I love it. I’m planning to go to grad school, and my goal is to get a job with the Forest Service or Park Service when I graduate.”
Partnership agreements, such as this one, leverage public and private funds to expand the impact of this important restoration work, and they are a vital tool by which the SWCC is meeting their restoration and monitoring goals. To date, approximately $1.5 million in CFLR funds have been invested in partnership agreements. These funds have leveraged an additional $1.1 million in federal and private match as well as in-kind services.
For additional information contact Sandy Mack, SWCC Liaison Officer, 406-329-3817.