NWTF, USDA Begin Restoration, Timber Transit as Part of Master Stewardship Agreement

EDGEFIELD, SC — As part of the new 20-year national master stewardship agreement between the NWTF and the USDA Forest Service, critical wildfire risk reduction and forest restoration work will soon get underway, thanks to an exciting new sub-agreement focused on the Southwest Pacific Region (Region 5), which encompasses all of California. This critical work will be accomplished through funds provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Through our new master stewardship agreement with the Forest Service, we will address the most critical ecological challenges in our nation’s forests and grasslands,” said NWTF Co-Executive Director Kurt Dyroff. “As we begin to further this work and fulfill our mission on the Klamath National Forest and throughout Forest Service Region 5, we are beyond proud to show our members and the greater outdoor community our partnership with the Service. Forestry and the Far Many -Realize the benefits of our collaborative efforts. The challenges facing our forests concern all Americans; It’s time for us to come together and make sure this job gets done.”

Reducing the risk of wildfires, restoring wildlife habitat, increasing carbon storage and sequestration, improving water quantity and quality, assisting underserved communities, providing recreational opportunities: the benefits of the new forest management agreement Region 5 are all encompassing and will be coupled to reinforce other critical conservation priorities. , including the Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy and the NWTF’s Four Shared Values.

The new agreement’s pilot project will focus on California’s Klamath National Forest, site of multiple recent catastrophic wildfires, including the 2022 McKinney Fire that caused four deaths and burned more than 50,000 acres in less than 36 hours, leaving a scar of generational burning and causing general ecological ruin of parts of the forest, made worse by subsequent flooding and debris flows. Similarly, the 2021 Antelope Fire burned 145,632 acres of forest with reported flame lengths exceeding 100 feet.

Some of the first projects of the new agreement in Region 5 will occur in these areas and will seek to make the forest more resilient to catastrophic wildfires. These projects will include the collection and transportation of hazardous fuels and wood that would otherwise exacerbate catastrophic wildfires. As part of the initial pilot, a portion of the wood harvested from the forest will be transported by rail car to forest products factories in Wyoming, bolstering a major economic engine in the state’s Black Hills region. The process of moving wood by railcar in earlier years was considered an outdated method, as it was not considered profitable for companies looking to create forest products. However, considering the immense ecological value (i.e. wildfire risk reduction, carbon optimization, watershed health, wildlife habitat, etc.), the process has the potential to lay a precedent for extracting fuels from the forest and transforming it into a forest that stores carbon. products

“We are excited to reinvigorate this model of transporting fuels into forest products,” said Tom Spezze, NWTF’s national director of field conservation and state policy. “Our partners are excited to show this off as a proof of concept that will lay the groundwork for more critical work to follow.”

In addition to the California-Wyoming timber hauling initiative, the new Region 5 stewardship agreement includes a variety of forest management practices, including brush mowing, juniper chewing and planting thinning. Mowing of decaying shrubs creates a patchy mosaic of wildlife cover and will be timed to encourage regrowth of vigorous shrubs in the spring, providing excellent forage for mule deer. Mowed areas also strengthen prescribed fire boundaries and wildfire containment. This will improve habitat for wildlife, while increasing the resilience of forests to wildfires, insects, and disease.

As part of the new management agreement, additional projects in Forest Service Region 5 will be merged in the coming months to continue comprehensive work.

“The Forest Service and the National Wild Turkey Federation are taking an innovative approach to support disadvantaged rural communities by maintaining critical industrial infrastructure and mill capacity,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “Intermodal timber transportation will support the implementation of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy by increasing the pace and scale of forest restoration and wildfire mitigation in priority landscapes, as well as supporting the forest products industry in the future. ”.

About the National Wild Turkey Federation

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested more than half a billion dollars in wildlife conservation and has conserved or improved more than 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to advance wildlife conservation, forest resiliency, and robust recreational opportunities across the US by working beyond borders at the landscape scale.

2023 is the 50th of the NWTF he anniversary and an opportunity to push the organization’s mission into the future while honoring its rich history. for his 50 he anniversary, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and the people of NWTF; and raise $5 million to build a $50 million endowment for the future. Find out how you can help us achieve these lofty goals.