Three Years of Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program Have Yielded Big Benefits for People, Water and Wildlife

Arlington, Va.; April 15, 2013 — A 151-member coalition of community, forest, timber and wildlife champions sent a letter to congressional appropriators requesting they maintain support for the successful Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program (CFLR). In 2013, this U.S. Forest Service program applied $40 million to forest restoration projects in 23 forested landscapes across the country.

President Obama’s recently released FY14 budget allots the program $39.8 million.

As identified in the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration 2012 Annual Report (pdf), last year’s $40 million investment resulted in:

  • 4,574 full- and part-time jobs created and maintained;
  • $320 million in labor income;
  • 612,000 acres with reduced the risk of megafire;
  • 6,000 miles of eroding roads remediated and clean water supplies enhanced;
  • 95.1 million cubic feet of timber sold;
  • 537,000 acres of wildlife habitat improved;
  • 400 miles of fish habitat restored;

In addition to these on-the-ground results, CFLR also highlighted the opportunity to leverage matching investments in forest restoration. All told, CFLR leveraged an additional $45.4 million dollars towards collaborative actions in 2012. 

Beyond the beauty they offer, forests are critical to life and livelihood across the nation. Americans forests cover one-third of the United States; store and filter half the nation’s water supply; provide jobs to more than a million wood products workers; absorb nearly 20 percent of U.S. carbon emissions; offer 650 million acres of recreational lands that generate well more than $13 billion a year in economic activity; and provide habitat for thousands of species across the country.

CFLR is particularly valuable now, on the heels of the third-largest wildfire year. A century of suppressing natural wildfires has resulted in unhealthy forests choked with small trees and brush that can lead to destructive megafires.

Over the last 50 years, the United States has had only 3 years with more than nine million acres burned — all have occurred since 2006. A new Forest Service report to the White House predicts the country will average 20 million acres burned a year due to climate change. CFLR is a tool to help insulate our communities, water sources and wildlife from this threat.

All told, The Nature Conservancy estimates 120 million acres of America’s forests — an area bigger than Oregon and West Virginia combined — are in immediate need of restoration due to this “perfect storm” of threats.

Observers say the program is bucking the larger downward funding trend because restoration of national forests is the new “zone of agreement,” where traditional adversaries in the timber industry, conservation and local county governments are working to advance common goals.

The collaborative results of the report were heralded by companies, community groups and conservation organizations around the nation.

“The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program is bringing communities from around the country together to create jobs, to restore forest and watershed health and to reduce the costs of wildfire suppression at impressive scales,” offered Paige Lewis of The Nature Conservancy. “The program and its many supporters are charting a successful path forward for national forest management.”

“The 2012 CFLR Annual Report illustrates how this program benefits forests, rural economies and water quality,” said John Barnwell of the Society of American Foresters.

“Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration projects are cost efficient, mostly because of their long time frame and larger scale,” added Megan Birzell of The Wilderness Society. “Selected projects are assured funding as long as appropriations are available until 2019, which provided certainty for businesses their banks and other investors and time for workers to be trained and become skilled and for product markets to be developed and expanded.”

“Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration has shown that the critical importance of healthy and thriving forests can be a unifying force,” said Rebecca Turner of American Forests. “Our organization is proud to be collaborating with such a diverse collective of partners on a program that received bipartisan support from Congress to improve the health of our forests, as well as creating needed jobs.”

“These days, instead of the Forest Service taking a couple of years to design a project then going to the public for their opinion, the public is involved from the beginning,” said Craig Rawlings of the Forest Business Network.  “All told, it’s easy to see how CFLR is a program we can truly get excited about in the forest products industry.”

Dylan Kruse of Sustainable Northwest said, “Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration is about boots on the ground, creating jobs in rural communities. Now is the time to invest in rural communities and restore the health of our national forests. CFLR does exactly that.”

The 23 sites to receive investment in 2012 were:

  • Ozark Highlands Ecosystem Restoration, Arkansas, $959,000
  • Shortleaf-Bluestem Community Project, Arkansas and Oklahoma, $342,000
  • Four Forest Restoration Initiative, Arizona, $4 million
  • Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group Cornerstone Project, California, $730,000
  • Burney-Hat Creek Basins Project, California, $605,000
  • Dinkey Landscape Restoration Project, California, $1,788,257
  • Front Range Landscape Restoration Initiative, Colorado, $4 million
  • Uncompahgre Plateau, Colorado, $1,018,200
  • Accelerating Longleaf Pine Restoration, Florida, $1,497,970
  • Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative, Idaho, $324,000
  • Selway-Middle Fork Clearwater, Idaho, $4 million
  • Weiser-Little Salmon Headwaters Project, Idaho, $2.45 million
  • Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Restoration and Hazardous Fuels Reduction, Mississippi, $2.71 million
  • Pine-Oak Woodlands Restoration Project, Missouri, $617,000
  • Southwestern Crown of the Continent, Montana, $4 million
  • Southwest Jemez Mountains, New Mexico, $3.865 million
  • Zuni Mountain Project, New Mexico, $400,000
  • Grandfather Restoration Project, North Carolina, $605,000
  • Deschutes Collaborative Forest, Oregon, $1,087,700
  • Lakeview Stewardship Project, Oregon, $3.5 million
  • Southern Blues Restoration Coalition, Oregon, $2.5 million
  • Northeast Washington Forest Vision 2020, Washington, $968,000
  • Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, Washington, $2,445,525

The CFLR annual report was produced by the CFLR Coalition, which is comprised of 145 member organizations that include private businesses, communities, counties, tribes, water suppliers, associations and non-governmental organizations.

Copies of the 2012 CFLRP Annual Report can be requested from Jon Schwedler of the CFLR Coalition at jschwedler@tnc.org.

Information on CFLRP can be found at the U.S. Forest Service’s website: http://www.fs.fed.us/restoration/CFLR/