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USDA & Western governors partner for $66M conservation investment

USDA & Western governors partner for $66M conservation investment

By Jamie Martin

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), under the Administration's guidance, is advancing conservation efforts by allocating nearly $66 million to mitigate wildfire risk, safeguard water quality, and enhance forest health.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Xochitl Torres Small announced this investment during a meeting of the Western Governors' Association, underscoring the administration's commitment to protecting communities and natural resources.

Part of the President's Investing in America agenda, this funding aims to address pressing challenges such as wildfires threatening rural America.

Through collaborative efforts with states, Tribes, and private landowners, USDA will implement projects to fortify landscapes, infrastructure, and community resilience.

In addition to the financial commitment, Deputy Secretary Torres Small signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Western Governors' Association, facilitating coordinated responses to regional challenges.

The MOU emphasizes collaboration in stewardship efforts, integrating forest and rangeland health initiatives, and mitigating wildfire risks across diverse land ownerships.

Of the total investment, $12 million will be channeled through the USDA Forest Service's Good Neighbor Authority, fostering collaboration with state forestry agencies and Tribes to enhance forest, rangeland, and watershed health.

Another $55 million will support the Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership, focusing on wildfire risk reduction, water quality improvement, and forest health enhancement across 11 states.

These initiatives align with President's Justice40 Initiative, aiming to ensure equitable distribution of environmental benefits. They complement Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's recent announcement of $18 million for Tribal Forest Protection Act projects, furthering conservation efforts on tribal lands.

The Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership, established in 2014, has invested over $423 million in 134 projects across the nation, emphasizing collaboration between federal, state, Tribal, and private entities.

The Good Neighbor Authority, enacted in 2014, facilitates cooperative management agreements to accelerate forest restoration efforts.

Through these strategic investments and partnerships, USDA is working towards resilient landscapes, thriving communities, and sustainable natural resources for future generations.

Photo Credit: usda

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