USDA To Spend $30m On Tree Thinning

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February 7, 2014 by   - () Leave a Comment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday it will spend $30 million this year on forest restoration projects in 12 states to reduce the threat of wildfires, protect water quality and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species, according to the Associated Press.

Those first 13 projects will be the start of a multi-year initiative to improve the health of forests and watersheds on public and private lands, Agriculture Undersecretary Robert Bonnie said.

With longer fire seasons in recent years burning more areas, and beetle outbreaks devastating more than 40 million acres of forests in the West, the pace and scale of restoration need to be increased, he said.

The work must extend to helping private landowners thin their trees, remove brush, protect habitat and improve watersheds along their properties, Bonnie said.

“If we only worked on our national forests, it wouldn’t be enough to address this problem,” he said.

Money to work with private landowners will come from the farm bill Congress passed this week, and the Forest Service will use its own funds to work on adjacent public lands.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, a nonprofit that has filed several lawsuits to block logging projects in national forests in the Northern Rockies, was skeptical about the plan.

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