Denise Coleman, State Conservationist for Pennsylvania NRCS announced Thursday the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service will invest $1,074,030 in financial assistance in 2017 to improve and protect the health and resiliency of Oak ecosystems in Northcentral Pennsylvania.
The assistance is being made available through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Project
This unique, landscape-scale public-private lands project includes an area that spans 15 counties across the predominantly forested northern tier of Pennsylvania.
The project is a partnership between NRCS, the Allegheny National Forest, the Game Commission, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Bird Conservancy, National Audubon Society, National Wild Turkey Federation, U.S. Forest Service-Northern Research Station, U.S. Forest Service-Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science.
All partner agencies will coordinate efforts by leveraging financial and technical resources to initiate conservation activities on public lands and private lands adjacent to public lands.
“This collaboration will help meet the growing challenges that come with protecting communities, watersheds, and forests from the devastating and costly impacts of introduced and native insects and disease, non-native invasive plants, fire exclusion, and other threats to forest health, while protecting water resources, and improving wildlife habitat,” said Coleman.
The northern tier of Pennsylvania is one of the largest contiguous forest land areas in the eastern U.S. with primarily oak-hickory, oak-pine, and maple-beech-birch forest types.
The project area contains 2,642 miles of Exceptional Value streams and canvasses 4.6 million acres of watersheds with greatly reduced brook trout populations. These systems feed into the Ohio River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.
Within the project area the land base is weighted toward private ownership with public lands constituting approximately 32 percent of the landscape.
The collaboration will help public and private forest landowners maintain a diversity of forest age classes and species to sustain forest ecosystems that are resilient to stressors. This, in turn, will improve habitat quality for at-risk species, protect water quality and supplies, and reduce and mitigate the threat of wildfire.
The project entitled ‘Sustaining Pennsylvania’s Oak Ecosystems through Partnership in Forest Management’ is one of 10 newly selected projects for the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership in fiscal year 2017.
With 26 partnership projects already underway throughout the country, Federal, state and local partners will bring an additional $30 million through financial and in-kind contributions over three years to implement the newly added projects.
With this funding, Joint Chiefs’ projects will extend to 29 states.
For a full list of project descriptions and information on new and completed projects, visit the NRCS Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership website.For more information on other farm, forest and landowner conservation assistance, visit the NRCS Pennsylvania webpage.