USDA Forest Service receives $25.1 million from Land & Water Conservation Fund to protect National Forests in WA and OR

PORTLAND, Ore., March 18, 2021 — The USDA Forest Service today announced the investment of more than $25.1 million in Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) projects in Washington and Oregon to conserve critical forest and wetland habitat, support rural economic recovery and increase public access to National Forests and Grasslands.

The Forest Service administers two LWCF programs – the Forest Legacy Program and the Land Acquisition Program. Together, these programs conserve critical and strategic lands across the nation’s forests on both private and public lands. Congress provided for permanent funding of LWCF in the Great American Outdoors Act last year.

Land acquisition projects add lands to National Forests to improve public access, connect habitat, and protect natural resources. Three land acquisition projects in Oregon and two phases of a project in Washington were approved for funding in 2021:

  • The Wasson Forest project will allow completion of a three-phase land acquisition on the Siuslaw National Forest that also received LWCF funding in 2019 and 2020. The lands include a segment of Wasson Creek, adjacent to the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness, that was designated in 2019 through the Dingell Act. Location: Near Reedsport, OR. Partner: EcoTrust.
  • Two phases of the Washington Cascades project received funding to consolidate checkerboard lands on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest south of the I-90 corridor. This will improve management for recreation and conservation efforts in the Yakima River Watershed. Location: Near Cle Elum, WA. Partner: The Nature Conservancy.
  • The Crooked River Gorge project will improve recreation and river access for hiking, fishing, hunting, and paddling on the Crooked Wild and Scenic River Corridor in the Ochoco National Forest. Location: Near Redmond, OR. Partner: Trust for Public Land.
  • The Elk Creek project will improve recreation access and camping opportunities along Elk and Crow Creeks on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Location: Near Enterprise, OR. Partner: Western Rivers Conservancy.

The Forest Legacy Program is a conservation program administered by the Forest Service in partnership with State agencies to encourage the protection of privately-owned forest lands through conservation easements or land purchases. 

Forest Legacy Program projects in Washington that will receive funds in 2021 include two projects led by the Washington Department of Natural Resources:
 

  • Dewatto Headwaters Forest project, phase III. Location: Kitsap County & Mason County, WA.
  • Yacolt Forest project, phase II. Location: Clark County, WA.

Projects in Oregon to receive funding include two projects led by the Oregon Department of Forestry:

  • Spence Mountain Forest project. Location: Klamath County, OR.
     
  • Arch Cape Watershed project. Location: Clatsop County, OR.

In total, the Forest Service will invest more than $94 million nationwide to fund 28 projects under the Forest Legacy Program this year, and $123 million to fund Land Acquisition Program projects, including projects for recreation access and other purposes, this year.

Background

The Forest Service has been administering LWCF projects since 1964 along with the Department of the Interior. The fund provides critical support for Forest Service-led conservation projects including for critical acquisition of non-federal lands inside national forest and grassland boundaries. Now, with full and permanent funding enabled through the Dingell Act and the Great American Outdoors Act, the Forest Service is poised to strengthen its conservation program and provide greater recreation access to national forest lands.

The agency worked with many partners, considered multiple criteria and used established competitive processes to select projects for fiscal year 2021. During the review, the agency evaluated the environmental, social, and economic benefits of proposed projects and whether project areas were likely to be converted to non-forest uses or contributed to other conservation initiatives. The Forest Service also considered local needs for recreation access and the level of local support for strategic land acquisitions.

For more information on the Great American Outdoors Act and related projects, visit:





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r6/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD895998