ALBUQUERQUE ― The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest nearly $32 million this year to mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality and restore healthy forest ecosystems in 24 states and Puerto Rico.
More than $383,800 of that funding will support numerous forestry projects on the Carson National Forest in New Mexico.
Since 2013, USDA has invested $176 million in 56 Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership projects, which focus on areas where public forests and grasslands intersect with privately-owned lands.
“Through Joint Chiefs, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with agricultural producers and forest landowners to improve forest health using available Farm Bill conservation programs, and the Forest Service enhances forest health on public lands — stitching together a larger footprint of healthy ecosystems in priority areas,” said Kristin Graham Chavez, Assistance State Conservationist for Programs for NRCS.
“Wildfires are a serious and on-going threat to forests and communities alike, as we’ve seen in New Mexico last year,” said James Duran, Forest Supervisor for the Carson National Forest. “Through these Joint Chief’s projects, USDA will be working with local partners in high-risk project areas to control invasive species, install fire breaks and implement other targeted forest management practices to help mitigate the risk of wide-spread wildfires.”
Along with mitigating fire risk, Joint Chiefs’ projects work to improve water quality by restoring healthy forests and grasslands. The new project approved for New Mexico is the Taos Valley Watershed Coalition (TVWC) Collaborative Restoration. They have identified a focus area of 280,000 acres of contiguous landscape featuring juniper woodland to spruce/fir forest. This area encompasses most of the headwaters of the Rio Grande within Taos County; waters that are critical to the economy and well-being of New Mexico’s most populous areas such as Taos, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. The TVWC has developed a Landscape Restoration Strategy that prioritizes areas for restoration treatments. Funding is requested for implementation activities on Taos Pueblo, private, and Carson National Forest managed lands.
Private woodland owners in these project areas may be eligible for financial assistance from the NRCS to help them perform forest conservation practices on their land. Applications for the Joint Chiefs Taos Valley Watershed Coalition Collaborative Restoration Initiative will be accepted until April 20, 2018.
For further details contact the Taos service center at 575.758.3863.