New MoU Targets Large-Scale Restoration of Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest

Partners are set to break ground on a 16,000-acre forest health project in southwest Montana

A recently signed new Memorandum of Understanding between Pheasants Forever, Blue Forest and the US Forest Service lays the groundwork for meaningful conservation work in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley through 2028. Later this summer, the partners will begin implementation in the Nez/Mud area of ​​the Mud Creek Project, a 16,933-acre restoration plan to improve forest health, reduce fuel loads, and contribute to watershed/habitat enhancement in southwestern Montana. While the work is being carried out, the association is working to develop new financial solutions that will enable them to implement future forest health and fire risk reductions much more quickly.

Located in the Rocky Mountains, the Bitterroot/Mud Creek National Forest project was selected for restoration efforts due to an unhealthy current forest system. Overpopulated with small trees and shrubs due to fire suppression and a decline in active, sustainable forest management, the region’s communities, infrastructure, and wildlife are at significant risk from wildfires. Recognizing that community safety and forest health are intertwined, public and private stakeholders are acting together to reduce wildfire risk, protect communities, and improve wildlife habitat at a pace and scale never before seen in Montana.

“By implementing forest management efforts at this scale, Pheasants Forever and its partners can protect communities from the threat of catastrophic wildfire events while helping increase world-class wildlife populations and robust outdoor opportunities: a winning proposal for southwestern Montana,” said Michael Brown, Innovative Finance Manager for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever and implementing partner of the Mud Creek Project. “In terms of forest management, the positive implications this project has for grouse, mule deer, elk, native trout, bighorn sheep, and other regionally sensitive species will be tangible.”

The MOU is the first step the partners are taking to explore how conservation funding can accelerate restoration work in this landscape. Conservation financing tools, such as the Forest Resilience Bond, provide seed funding to address the cost of restoration now, avoid further costs of inaction, and accelerate the pace and scale of forest management and landscape restoration projects. river.

Restoration activities at the Mud Creek Project include:

  • Flat Basin Wood Sale: 1,278 acres of commercial treatment
  • Mechanical Stewardship Contracts: 4,365 acres of treatment, including thinning and/or manual piling and pile burning
  • No comercial: Up to 6,435 acres of thinning and/or manual piling and burning of piles
  • Prescribed Fire: Up to 13,800 acres of low intensity and mixed severity

While this MOU specifically includes three parties, cross-border work is made possible by the strong local partnerships of many entities at the federal, state, and local levels with partners from the Forest Service Region 1 Partnership office, Bitterroot National Forest , Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and Bitter Root Resource Conservation and Development, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ravalli County, and private landowners.

About pheasants forever

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever make up the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. This community of more than 400,000 members, supporters, and partners is dedicated to protecting our highlands through habitat improvement, public access, education, and advocacy. A network of 754 local chapters spread across North America determine how 100 percent of their locally raised funds are spent—the only national conservation organization to operate through this grassroots structure. Since its inception in 1982, the organization has dedicated more than $1 billion to 575,000 habitat projects benefiting 24 million acres.

About Blue Forest

Blue Forest is a nonprofit organization committed to creating sustainable financial solutions to pressing environmental challenges. Blue Forest’s main financial product, the Forest Resilience Bond (FRB), deploys private capital to finance forest restoration projects that reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Blue Forest developed the FRB in partnership with the World Resources Institute and works closely with the USDA Forest Service and a host of NGO and academic partners who provide research, evaluation, and implementation expertise.