“This is welcomed money and will be put to very good use,” says Ron Henderson, chairman of the Montrose County Board of County Commissioners, of the grant. “The goal is to keep our forests healthy by reducing the risk of large wildfires, maintaining and improving water quality, preventing the spread of invasive noxious weeds and enhancing fish and wildlife habitats.
“Not to mention it will put some folks in our community back to work.”
The restoration project is expected to create close to 750 part-time or seasonal jobs, supporting the enlargement of biomass markets for renewable energy and maintaining the viability of regional timber mills, the last remaining large sawmills in Colorado, for which a local and sustainable supply of wood is critical. Work, job-skill training and educational opportunities will be available for local youth and adults.
“The incredible cooperative relationships that exist on the Western Slope of Colorado among our community members, public land agencies, environmentalists, recreation groups, local governments, energy industry, ranchers, and timber companies have made this opportunity possible,” says Uncompahgre Plateau Project Outreach Coordinator Pam Motley.
“This grant is a win for all of us.”
The restoration projects will focus on 555,300 acres of Forest Service land within a one-million acre landscape. Active restoration projects on 160,000 acres will include controlled burns; timber harvests; native plant establishment; trail and road relocations (to reduce sediment); riparian restoration and improvements for Colorado River cutthroat trout. Multi-party monitoring efforts are proposed for 68,000 acres. The grant provides money for the implementation of restorative work, and for monitoring, as well.
Projects were selected based on recommendations from a 15-member advisory committee, whose members were chosen according to technical expertise, geographic locale, points-of-view represented and backgrounds.
Additional information about the program can be found at: www.upproject.org and http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/spf/cfrp/.