Supporting Implementation of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy
The National Forest Foundation and the USDA Forest Service today signed a twenty-year Master Stewardship Agreement to expand forest health and fuels reduction treatments work across the country.
The National Forest Foundation (NFF), a congressionally chartered non-profit with the mission of bringing people together to restore and enhance national forests, will work alongside the Forest Service, under the Master Stewardship Agreement (MSA) to identify, plan and implement forest treatments in priority landscapes that are at risk of severe wildfire. An emphasis will be placed on treatments that protect underserved communities.
Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, the agreement provides significant funding to support implementation of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy which combines scientific research and forest planning to address the need for strategic large-scale forest health treatments over the next decade. The agreement is based on an all-lands approach, supporting treatments on public, private, and tribal lands to promote holistic community safety and forest resilience. The NFF and Forest Service are currently drafting the first project-specific agreement under the MSA, which will invest roughly $30M in one of the recently named Wildfire Crisis landscapes.
Overgrown forests due to decades of fire suppression, insect infestation, a changing climate, prolonged drought, and the sprawl of home construction into wildland areas, have all contributed to what is now a full-blown wildfire and forest health crisis.
“This agreement couldn’t come at a more crucial time. Congress and the Forest Service have identified wildfires as an extreme risk to the health and safety of both our National Forests and our communities and this agreement reinforces the need for more funding and resources to combat these risks. Together the NFF and Forest Service are well equipped to generate solutions to these ongoing risks and execute the work needed to protect and preserve these areas.”
The MSA allows the NFF to hire more boots on the ground to directly implement an expansion of fuels reduction projects across the country including vegetation thinning to reduce high levels of hazardous fuels and improve forest resilience to wildfire and other programs that improve watershed health, wildlife habitat, address natural climate solutions, and boost community engagement.
"This partnership agreement with the National Forest Foundation builds on our long and robust history of working together to solve the biggest challenges facing our nation's forests and grasslands. The National Forest Foundation has a unique role to play in this critical work, and we appreciate their commitment to our shared goals.” USDA Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said. “Through our partnership we will accelerate implementation of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy to protect communities and critical infrastructure through sustainable forest management practices that will improve forest health and resiliency. Reducing wildfire risk across the many communities we serve is our highest priority, and because of the hard work of our employees and partners like the National Forest Foundation, we are better positioned to be successful now than ever before."
Helping speed the progression of local and regional restoration projects and community engagement are mutually beneficial to the NFF and the Forest Service, and are top priorities as the twenty-year agreement kicks off.