USDA Investing Millions in Wildfire Mitigation and Water Quality Projects Through Joint Chiefs’ Partnership

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 $690,000 of that funding will support the Capital 360 forestry project in Montana.

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 Tom Hedt, NRCS acting state conservationist in Montana

Along with mitigating fire risk, Joint Chiefs’ projects work to improve water quality by restoring healthy forests and grasslands.

In Montana, the funding will support the Capital 360 project in the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest. The Capital 360 effort builds on prior successful, smaller-scale fuels reduction projects to improve forest health in the Upper Tenmile Creek watershed and portions of the Prickly Pear, which supply water to Helena and East Helena.

Private woodland owners in these project areas may be eligible for financial assistance from the NRCS to perform forest conservation practices on their land. Contact a local USDA Service Center to learn more.