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U.S. Forest Service Announces $2M Award To Catalyze Seven Community Forest Program Projects
Updated June 6, 2017 5:52 AM | Filed under: Natural Resources
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(Washington, D.C.) - The U.S. Forest Service announced the award of $2 million to catalyze seven Community Forest Program projects. This investment will support jobs and healthy forests in communities in Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

The Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program provides grants to local governments, tribes, and qualified nonprofit organizations to establish community forests that will provide economic and environmental benefits as well as education, stewardship, and recreation opportunities. The program gives thousands of Americans better access to the great outdoors while fostering the next generation of American conservationists.

The projects selected were shaped by the communities that proposed them. These communities will also manage the forests in the future.

"These are truly community forests," said U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief of State and Private Forestry Vicki Christiansen. "The proposals we received grew directly from the communities that presented them. They will become important economic, recreational, and educational cornerstones of their communities."

Implementing the Community Forest Program supports the creation, expansion, and enhancement of vibrant community spaces. All projects selected must guarantee public access, and the community members must be involved in developing a forest plan to determine the long-term goals for the forests.

The Community Forest Program has helped 42 communities to conserve nearly 10,000 acres of locally-managed forests since 2012. The success of the program is due to strong partnerships between the Forest Service, tribes, local governments, non-profits, and most of all, the time and energy of many dedicated community members.

Funded Projects:

Pine Street Woods, Idaho - $400,000

This 160-acre project is located in an area with superior timber growing values, biodiversity, proximity to existing mills, and high threat of development. The project will provide public access for educational and recreational opportunities as well as economic benefits to the community derived from sustainable forest management.

Hidden Valley Nature Center, Maine - $400,000

The Hidden Valley Nature Center serves as a hub for learning about forest management and value-added forest products and hosts a number of forest stewardship and wood-based educational opportunities. Securing this property will ensure that these educational opportunities continue in the future. Hidden Valley is also a local resource and destination for non-motorized recreation, with 25 miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, trail running, and mountain biking as well as opportunities for canoeing and fishing.

North Falmouth Community Forest, Maine - $140,000

This grant will add 36 acres to the existing 97-acre town forest and will improve recreational and forest management opportunities. This acquisition will enhance a forest corridor of several thousand acres. Two important snowmobile trails in the North Falmouth Community Forest connect snowmobile users to trails to the south and west of this property.

Page Pond, New Hampshire - $300,000

The Town of Meredith will add to the existing Page Pond Community Forest by acquiring199 acres. This will result in an expanded trail network and a new trailhead close to downtown and the school, improved wildlife habitat and drinking water quality, and a source of raw materials for local mills. The community forest will serve as a recreational, ecological, and economic asset to the community.

Catamount Community Forest, Vermont - $400,000

This 383-acre acquisition by the Town of Williston will secure a trail network of more than 20 miles, including a segment of the Cross Vermont Trail, a designated National Recreation Trail. Year-round recreational activities include running, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Catamount contains at least seven different natural communities and is an excellent example of a multiple-use working Vermont landscape.

Richmond Town Forest, Vermont - $256,000

The Richmond Town Forest has a long history of active professional forest management. After acquiring the property, the community will have the ability to harvest timber and forest products in the future to raise revenues for the town and help cover the costs of management. There are several headwater streams on the property that flow directly into the Winooski River and then on to Lake Champlain. Conservation of this project will protect water quality and support flood resiliency in the Winooski River watershed.

Springfield Bluff, Wisconsin - $104,000

Situated on a unique limestone bluff on the edge of the Kettle Range, the 80-acre Springfield Bluff project will establish a community forest in central Wisconsin for community use. The project will provide diverse opportunities for recreation and demonstrate the importance of public lands and working forests in a region with few publically accessible lands.

The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.fed.us.



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