The U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest more than $41 million this fiscal year through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership for projects that mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality and restore healthy forest ecosystems on public and private lands. Funding for 36 projects includes $10.6 million for 16 new projects and $30.5 million to complete work on 20 projects previously selected in 2018 and 2019.
Through the projects, USDA’s Forest Service (FS) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are working hand-in-hand with agricultural producers, forest landowners and National Forest System lands to improve forest health using available Farm Bill conservation programs and other authorities.
USDA has invested more than $225 million over seven years to Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership projects, which focus on areas where public forests and grasslands intersect with privately-owned lands.
“This partnership has a strong history of accomplishing critical management work across boundaries,” said FS Chief Vicki Christiansen. “The collaborative approach exemplifies USDA’s shared stewardship model of working with our federal, state and local partners to springboard high-priority restoration work.”
The Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership allows NRCS and FS to collaborate with agricultural producers and forest landowners to invest in conservation and restoration at a big enough scale to make a difference. Working in partnership, and at this scale, helps reduce wildfire threats, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.
“This partnership has become a catalyst for turning discussions about restoration among a variety of groups into on-the-ground implementation,” said NRCS Chief Matt Lohr. “The selected projects are scientifically strong and allow us to work seamlessly across public and private lands to deliver positive outcomes for wildlife, landowners and entire communities.”
About the Project
The North Dakota Badlands Restoration Project was one of the 16 new projects selected for Fiscal Year 2020. This project will focus efforts in Billings (Little Missouri National Grassland), Golden Valley, McKenzie, and Slope Counties. The project will manage native ponderosa pine stands and Rocky Mountain juniper stands using mechanical treatment over approximately 14,000 acres. The objectives are: to reduce fuels and the threat of wildfire to communities, private property and oil and gas facilities; manage encroachment of juniper into adjacent woody draws and upland mixed grass prairie; and reduce the density of juniper within remaining juniper areas with the overall goal to increase the pace and scale of landscape restoration in the badlands of North Dakota.
The North Dakota Badlands Restoration Project will help to provide conservation for the greater sage-grouse, in a portion of the only designated priority habitat in North Dakota, a nationally identified target species of the Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) NRCS partnership. For the greater sage-grouse, the loss and fragmentation of habitat is caused primarily by invading conifers, conversion to cropland or subdivision, and catastrophic wildfires.
The total FY20 funding obligated for the project is $185,346 (NRCS $119,721 and USFS $65,625). Partners include the North Dakota Forest Service, North Dakota Natural Resource Trust, McKenzie County Grazing Association, Medora Grazing Association, Little Missouri Grazing Association, North Dakota Game & Fish, McKenzie County Grazing Association, Medora Grazing Association, Little Missouri Grazing Association, Horse Creek Grazing Association, North Dakota School Trust Lands, National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Mule Deer Foundation, and the Holmes Family Trust.
Through the new three-year projects, landowners will work with local USDA experts and partners to apply targeted forestry management practices on their land, such as thinning, hazardous fuel treatments, fire breaks and other systems to meet unique forestry challenges in their area.
This year’s selections bring the total number of Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration projects to 85. Since 2014, these projects have delivered important forest and rangeland funding to 40 states and Puerto Rico.
For full project descriptions and information on completed projects, visit the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership website.
Ag producers and forest landowners interested in a project to mitigate wildfire risk should contact their local USDA service center to learn if their land is eligible. More information is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xEsyY.