Deanne Buckman, Policy Intern
I think it is safe to say that, to some degree, all Americans utilize the invaluable resource that is the forest. Forests impact many aspects of life including filtering the water we drink, absorbing carbon emissions that would otherwise contribute to global warming, and providing space for a variety of other recreational and economic activities. However, the more we take from the forest, the more we must give back.
Luckily in 2009, Congress established the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) program to foster relationships between the different groups that utilize the forest’s resources so those stakeholders can come together to restore forest ecosystems. Specifically, the program aims to create jobs, produce reliable wood supply, ensure forest health and reduce risk of devastating wildfires. Since the program’s creation, 23 projects have been selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Now that half of the program’s life has passed, the Forest Service released a five-year report that outlines the program’s accomplishments and the challenges that it faces.
According the report, the program is on track to meet stated goals where it has not already done so. Since 2010 when the first 10 projects began, the program has restored more than 67,000 acres of forest vegetation, treated over 1.45 million acres to reduce the risk of invasive species, and improved more than 1.33 million acres of wildlife habitat.
In the report the Forest Service laid out five indicators of the individual projects’ success:
- Economic Impacts
- Collectively, the program has created or maintained approximately 4,360 jobs each year and produced more than $661 million in local income.
- Fire Risk and Costs
- In the past five years, the projects have treated more than 1.45 million acres of hazardous fuels. These treatments are intended to reduce the size, likelihood and severity of wildfires.
- Ecological Condition
- Forest conditions have been maintained through mechanical thinning and prescribed burning.
- Partnerships have continued to grow and form between Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, forest-related companies, and private citizens who work together to manage wildlife habitat and forest health. For example, collaboratives have worked together to manage invasive species such as the emerald ash borer and have also come together to improve the areas surrounding watersheds, from which the water benefits a total of approximately 124 million people.
- Leveraged Funds
- Since 2010, CFLR projects have received more than $76.1 million in partner match and leveraged more than $145 million to help achieve project goals.
As a member of the CFLR Steering Committee, American Forests looks forward to seeing what the next five years has in store for the projects under the program.