Updates

Week ending 3/7/13 -- The Tongass Off Highway Vehicle Bridge and Replacement and Trail Maintenance for Visitor Safety and Protection project addresses the needs of residents in the small Alaskan communities of Yakutat and Sitka. The project restored historic all-terrain vehicle and off highway vehicle trails used by these communities which depend on the trails. In addition to recreational access, residents use these trails for subsistence -- living from the land and streams. Subsistence is critical for the survival of residents in rural villages in Alaska. Trail use had grown greatly in recent years and maintenance funding had dropped. Together, the two situations have created critical ecosystem health and safety issues -- watershed and fisheries have been harmed. The communities are highly dependent upon recreation income associated with guided fishing on salmon streams. The improvement in these trails also provided job opportunities for local supply and recreation businesses. The project also reconstructed a few miles of off highway vehicle trail next to the Dangerous River near Yakutat. On the Sitka Mud Bay trail system, local workers did grade work, brush work, established drainage and replaced failing bridges.

Forests Adapting To and Mitigating Climate Effects project was created to help western states’ community forests adaptability and resiliency to a changing climate, but their current health must be known first. In addition, knowing community forest condition will serve as a model for the Forest Service’s Research Forest Inventory and Analysis program and will gather data on the condition of forests in populated areas in five western states. Results from this project will be used to evaluate questions about the potential reduction of energy use due to trees cooling the urban environment, the contribution of trees to carbon sequestration, water management within urban areas, and quality of life for urban residents.

The Green Mountain Reservoir is a popular camping, boating, and fishing destination for numerous visitors from local communities and the Denver area. Local businesses' livelihoods depend almost entirely on income from lake visitors. The reservoir is part of the water delivery system for the Denver metropolitan area, and water quality is a critical issue at this site. The Green Mountain Recreation Site Improvements Support Local Economy and Public Health project on the White River provided for construction of a badly needed central boat launch facility, highway safety improvements, traffic barriers and other resource protection for wetlands, gravel for roads to reduce environmental impacts, replacement of poor sanitary facilities and other minor site improvements. Several partners are jointly working on this project, which includes local workers, volunteers and youth corps. This project, along with increased water quality protection, ensures visitors will have a safer, more enjoyable recreational experience.

Over the past few years the national forests in Colorado and Wyoming have been heavily impacted by bark beetles. To date, approximately 2.5 million acres of trees have been affected by the insects. Beetle-killed dead trees have created a severe fire hazard over the majority of the national forests in the states and this fire hazard affects homeowners and communities adjacent to the forests. The Bark Beetle project utilized hazardous fuels treatments adjacent to the wildland urban interface to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire for homeowners. Statewide partnerships were formed to plan and facilitate the hazardous fuels treatments which were effective in reducing fire severity adjacent to homes. The project allowed the Forest Service to complete high priority hazardous fuels treatments to reduce fire risk on thousands of acres of National Forest System lands adjacent to homes and communities.
 

Week ending 2/28/13 -- The National Forests in North Carolina Trail and Bridge Maintenance for Safety and Resource Protection project focused on various trail and trail bridge maintenance in North Carolina’s national forests. The project increased visitor safety and ensured North Carolina’s natural resources were protected. Local workers restored, rehabilitated and replaced trail bridges that were at end of their service life. They also rehabilitated the popular Roan Mountain Trail, which included the replacement of a raised viewing platform, the repaving of the Forest Discovery Trail at the Cradle of Forestry, and maintenance activities on forest hiking, biking, equestrian and off highway vehicle trails. The maintenance work done has improved visitor safety and access to these national forests and reduce erosion by the restoration of drainage and stabilization of trails.

The Puerto Rico Hurricane and Hazardous Fuel Mitigation project was completed with the coordinated efforts of the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works. The mitigation project’s main goal was to reduce hurricane and fire risk along secondary roads in Puerto Rico. This goal was accomplished by managing and removing trees that created hazardous conditions during fires, windstorms and hurricanes. Initially work was contracted out to local vendors to conduct a tree condition inventory along secondary roads. Through this project local workers were trained in new job skills such as GPS and GIS training, training in safety, tree removal, tree pruning, and they learned how to assess tree conditions.

The Coyote Creek Gage Stations Reconstruction project came about because during the 1960s and 1970s, stream gauging stations in the Umpqua Experimental Forest provided valuable information about the effects of different harvest techniques on water quality and flow levels. Now, the Umpqua National Forest (Ore.) has initiated contemporary forest treatments to meet current forest health objectives. This region serves as a habitat for highly valued salmon and provides information about the effects of forest management on year-round stream conditions. This project is critical for maintaining a habitat for fish species that have economic and cultural value. The information gained from these restored gage stations enabled evaluation of these forest treatments on stream flow. This project strengthened the national experimental forest network by bringing an experimental forest that had been dormant for almost two decades back into operation. This infrastructure improvement project restored deteriorated gage stations and work spaces.

The Puget Sound region is renowned for beautiful, livable cities and outstanding natural landscapes, but with a population of 4 million people, development is threatening parks, green space, rivers, lakes, salmon, and other wildlife. Residents are concerned with how their lives affect and are affected by natural environments. The Pacific Northwest Research Station’s Restore Community Ecosystems While Promoting Green Jobs in the Puget Sound Area project worked with nongovernmental organizations and public sector partners to employ restoration efforts and to support stewardship and green infrastructure projects. The project also created jobs in the Puget Sound region. In particular, the project developed and implemented approaches for assessing forest conditions and ecosystem services. This research provided work experience and career opportunities for individuals with an interest in natural resources management. In addition, research on how residential location choices affect urban growth and development was conducted, along with research on how management of non-timber forest products factor into urban planning, stewardship, and restoration activities. The information gathered helped guide restoration projects, provide information that reduced the need for regulatory controls, and increased the likelihood of ongoing, self-sustaining efforts to protect urban environments.


Week ending 2/21/13 -- As part of the Idaho County Roads Project, Packer Meadows Road 373, a major access road near Lolo Pass in the Powell Ranger District of the Clearwater National Forest, has been rerouted at Low Gap in order to restore safe and reliable access to many thousand acres of public land in the Brushy Creek and Spruce Creek areas after culvert failures along the road led to washouts and frequent repairs. A heavy thunderstorm during 2002 caused two undersized culverts along a steep switchback of Road 373 to fail, causing washouts and unstable road beds to slide. Major repairs and continued maintenance of the already narrow roadbed caused road closures due to the safety hazard. Local contractors constructed new road, decommissioned a portion of the old route at the road-slide site, and installed two gates at the ends of the old route to divert traffic but maintain access, to bypass the stream crossing. At the decommissioned section, the contractors removed the failed culverts and fill material and returned the stream to its natural dimensions and gradient to prevent erosion and sediment delivery to the stream ecosystem. The contractors maintained slope stability, minimized soil distribution and erosion, and reseeded excavated areas. The new road provided a reliable roadway for firefighting crews and saved Forest Service money. The project provided valuable jobs while providing for reduction of deferred maintenance, facilities maintenance and improvements, fisheries and watershed improvements and protection of natural resources. The project also provided immediate benefits to local communities because the work performed was conducted by local construction contractors, materials suppliers, and support services. The project improved fish passages at critical stream crossings, reductions in sediment, wildlife habitat improvements, and improvement of forest soils. The project was completed in partnership with the Nez Perce Tribe, local mill owners, Idaho County, and local highway districts.

The Non-Invasive Plant Control project focused on forest-wide treatment and control of non-native plant species such as cogongrass, Japanese climbing fern, Chinese tallow, Chinese wisteria, kudzu, Chinese privet, trifoliate orange, and autumn olive. The work was completed in an effort by specialized local and regional workers. There work was part of an effort to control and eradicate non-native invasive species across the state of South Carolina. Non-native invasive species threaten forest resources, outcompeting native vegetation and cultured crop and rangeland across the nation. The highly fragmented pattern of private and public land ownership in the South makes control of invasive species an important cooperative goal for national forests, private landowners, state agencies, and private organizations in South Carolina. This project focused on forest-wide treatment and control of non-native plant species such as cogongrass, Japanese climbing fern, Chinese tallow, Chinese wisteria, kudzu, Chinese privet, trifoliate orange and autumn olive. Partners in this effort were the National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail Unlimited, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, South Carolina Native Plant Society, South Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council and Clemson University. On the Sumter National Forest, contracted crews have surveyed several thousand acres of forest land on the Sumter National Forest. On the Francis Marion National Forest of the several hundred acres surveyed 125 acres were found to be infested. Japanese climbing fern was found in during this project. It is a species that spreads rapidly by spores that can travel by wind, water, clothing or fur. It can occupy and threaten forested areas, and has done just that on tens of thousands of acres in Florida. The four districts on the Francis Marion and Sumter national forests have prepared hundreds of acres for two annual invasive species treatments, prioritizing control of non-native invasive plants within areas of special Forest Service interest and concern: floodplain canebrakes; open woodlands; longleaf ecosystems; the wild and scenic river corridors; and contiguous tracks of Forest Service ownership.

The Green Mountain Reservoir (GMR) is located north of Silverthorne, Colo. The Green Mountain Recreation Site Improvements project consisted of two primary phases. The beginning camping facilities were comprised mainly of user-created sites along the lake shore, which caused shoreline resource damage. The first phase relocated the campground access road intersection to address safety issues for vehicles accessing the recreation site. The second phase constructed a new campground loop and associated host sites on the east side of the reservoir. The existing camping facilities are comprised mainly of user-created sites along the lake shore, which cause shoreline resource damage. The project constructed a centralized boat launch facility. The centralized boat launch on the reservoir prevents the spread of tow aquatic nuisance species (ANS), the Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and the Quagga Mussel (Dreissena bugensis), which became a threat to the health of the aquatic environment. This threat has resulted in a need to limit boater access and conduct inspections to prevent the introduction of ANS into the reservoir.

Through the Fuels for Schools project, The Land Between The Lakes (LBL) received Recovery Act funds for "wood-to-energy" demonstration projects that benefit Lyon County public schools and Trigg County public health facilities through woody biomass technology utilization. New jobs were created to plan, design, and implement the projects in these two LBL gateway communities. Wood fuel has several environmental and economic advantages over fossil fuel. The main advantage is that wood is a renewable resource. The wood-to-energy effort provided a use for wood that currently qualifies only as debris, such as limbs and tree tops that litter most forests in the region. Local workers constructed the new metal building that houses the new biomass boiler system. For each facility, with new biomass boiler systems, fuel savings will be several thousand dollar, yearly.
 

Week ending 02/14/13 – The Bundled White Mountain Stewardship Contract Task Orders Recovery Act project started in late 2010 and affected over seven thousand acres of land. The project emphasized large scale forest restoration activities that resulted in healthier forests, enhanced rural development, and the use of previously unmarketable small diameter trees. The project also facilitated the development of a woods products industry better suited to market the excessive number of small-diameter trees on the national forests. The work has resulted in the smaller trees being put to various uses such as power-generation, lumber, pallets and manufacturing of wood pellets. The number of acres the Forest Service offered to meet current market demand for fiber has increased. Not only were new jobs were created by permitting more treatments, but also prevented the loss of jobs.

The West Branch/Seldom State Land Forest Improvement project allowed the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) to improve forest health and reduce hazardous fuels in economically distressed counties in northeastern Washington. This project funded treatment layout, site preparation, and contract administration. Many WDNR-managed forests in northeast Washington were overcrowded and at high risk to damage by wildfire, insects, and diseases. This project supported the layout of Forest Improvement Treatment projects on over two thousand acres to reduce the risk of wildfire and improve forest health. The recovery act funds supported WDNR jobs that would otherwise be unfunded, as well as private forestry consulting, such as the new jobs that were created for non-commercial thinning. These thinning treatments were advantageous to species and individual trees that were less susceptible to insects and diseases, reduced stand density in order to improve the strength of remaining trees, and removed smaller trees that could become fuel ladders for fires.
 

Week ending 01/31/13 – Through the San Juan National Forest and Trails and Trail Bridges Recovery Act project, old extensively used facilities including campgrounds, trailheads, scenic overlooks, picnic areas, cabins, and boat ramps have been repaired. Such facilities, when left in disrepair have the potential for a great number of accidents. This project completed critical maintenance of these dilapidated sites, improved public health and safety, and preserved the functionality and value for users and businesses for years to come. This project contributed significantly to the tourism industry in the Four Corners area of Colorado where the  San Juan National Forest receives an average of 1.7 million visitor days annually.

The $2.4 million Alaska Native Village Seed Production project is involved with training local workers to enter the Alaskan adapted and native seed industry. The primary users of this seed in Alaska are the state’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, the Department of Defense, mining companies, the oil industry, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. All these agencies are committed to the use of native species in restoration. The Alaska Plant Materials Center has a great deal of experience in rural Alaska and will be monitoring and supervising all planting, production, harvest and cleaning of collected seeds for several years.

The San Juan National Forest Recreation Site Maintenance to Improve Public Safety and Health project in the San Juan National Forest will repair hundreds of trail miles and numerous trail bridges to ensure resource protection and visitor safety. Work will include tread and drainage improvements, stabilization, cribbing, clearing, brushing, bridge repair, and signing. Trail work will be accomplished through an agreement with Southwest Conservation Corps, an established partner that trains crew leaders and maintains a ready pool of job applicants. Crews include American Indian and Hispanic youths from low-income families. The bridge work will be accomplished by contract. This project will enhance visitor safety and experience, improve forest health, and preserve access for management and fire suppression. San Juan National Forest averages 1.7 million visitor days annually and contributes significantly to the tourism industry in the Four Corners area of Colorado. The 1,800 mile trail system attracts many visitors and includes major segments of the Continental Divide and Colorado trails.

Smoke from wildfire is a human health hazard, particularly for those with asthma and other respiratory problems. Timely, accurate smoke forecasts can reduce these impacts. Public health officials use this information to alert individuals with health concerns, and fire fighters benefit from reduced risk of exposure to extreme fires. These health and safety benefits potentially reduce medical and fire costs. The Improve Health and Safety of Communities and Fire Fighters through Forecasting and Managing Smoke from Fires project maintains existing efforts to deliver accurate smoke forecasts from wild and prescribed fires and accelerates delivery of improved tools for smoke and fire management. Working with the University of Washington, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and Sonoma Technology, Inc., this project will include about 20 undergraduate interns through HACU internship program. HACU's intern pool spans the U.S. and Puerto Rico, providing opportunities to students from universities with substantial Hispanic enrollment. Interns and employees will gain experience that will prepare them for future "green" jobs targeted at improving environmental quality, especially air quality, with its ramifications to climate change.


Week ending 01/24/13 – Access to the 3,563-acre Kane Experimental Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania was improved through a Recovery Act project. Under the guidance of the Allegheny National Forest engineering staff, the Kane Experimental Forest Road Related Ecosystem project treated seven sites for noxious weed infestation and completed several miles of road improvements. These efforts reduced the environmental impact of the road system. The improvements also allow better dissemination of the research on the Kane, which has improved management of mixed hardwood forests -- especially of the Allegheny hardwood forest type. Work on the project included planting or removing vegetation as appropriate, replacing culverts and the creation of site drainages.

Detroit, Mich., and Toledo, Ohio, have experienced significant impacts from the emerald ash borer with millions of trees killed along public streets and in natural areas. These municipalities are suffering from economic downturns and do not have the resources for removal and replacement of the dying trees which present serious risks to human safety, property and ecosystem health. Through the Emerald Ash Borer Containment and Ecosystem Project, the Metropolitan Parks District of Toledo received over $1,000,000 dollars for tree removal and restoration activities in parks within the metropolitan district area. In the Detroit metropolitan area parks, neighborhoods, and power-line rights-of-way were also targeted by this Recovery Act funding. The data generated by the tree removal (number, size and location of removed trees) and restoration activities (invasive plant removal, replanting species, number, size, locations, and effects of restoration on forest ecosystems) was evaluated and analyzed.

The Nez Perce National Historic Trail improvement project in Montana and Idaho will hire unemployed youth and young adults -- including a youth group from the Nez Perce tribe -- for seasonal trail maintenance work. Several miles of trail will be improved through trail clearing, replacement of hundreds of non-functioning water bars important for erosion control, and the removal of downed timber and other vegetation. The Musselshell trail bridge and the Weippe boardwalk bridge along the Nez Perce Trail will be stabilized for visitor safety, reduced erosion into nearby streams and protection of a fragile wetland environment in the area. In addition, restoration work on the Weippe boardwalk bridge will improve the wheel chair accessible segment of the trail and provide a unique experience for visitors of all mobility skill levels.

Noxious weed infestations can result in destruction of wildlife habitat, reduced recreational opportunities, displacement of threatened and endangered species, and reduced plant and animal diversity. Located near Durango, Colo., the San Jose Noxious Fuels project will locate, inventory, and treat several thousand acres of public and private lands infested with noxious weeds within hazardous fuel reduction units across the San Juan National Forest. One of the consequences of removing plants, brush and other potential fuels is that bare mineral soil is exposed, creating an opportunity for invasive species to grow. For the best results, noxious weed management must go hand-in-hand with limiting fuels. This project will expand existing county cooperative weed management efforts and provide stewardship training and employment opportunities in Dolores, Montezuma, La Plata and Archuleta counties. The work will include mapping weed infestations and applying chemical and/or biological treatments. Control of these invasive plant populations will enhance agency fuels treatments and improve wildlife habitat, plant diversity and visual aesthetics.
 

Week ending 01/10/13 -- The Idaho & Clearwater County Roads Project on the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests has been completed. The project included road decommissioning and soil restoration work that provided ecological benefits including: improved fish and wildlife habitat, restored fish passage, improved wetlands, protecting threatened, endangered and sensitive species, reduced the spread of invasive weeds, and reduced erosion and sedimentation within the associated watersheds. The road decommissioning not only improved the transportation infrastructure by reducing deferred maintenance obligations on the forests but also supported local business and attracted private business within the counties. Additionally, the added value of this project promoted local communities in Idaho and Clearwater counties as contractors utilized local workforce purchase equipment, materials and supplies, fuel, and other accommodations from local business owners.

Slash is the leftover branches, brush and limbs after a thinning project and is scattered across the forest. Piling the slash reduces fuels and reduces impacts to forest stands from wildfire. The completed Hand Piling Slash Project on the Kootenai National Forest in Montana involved hand piling slash created by pre-commercial thinning and timber stand improvement projects on many acres. Reducing the probability of intense fires also helped protect homes and communities in the wildland urban interface. The project provided job opportunities to numerous individuals in two of the most economically challenged counties in the state of Montana. This project was implemented with groups that serve nine communities adjacent to the forest.

The Bonner County Roads Project underway will eliminate unneeded forest roads in Idaho. It will improve watershed health and wildlife habitat by stabilizing soils and reducing sediment reaching streams, and it will assist native fish populations by removing blocked migration passages and adding woody debris to create habitat. Several miles of roads will be eliminated and a few miles of roads will be re-routed to reduce sedimentation and for long-term protection of water quality. Replacing bridges and undertaking several miles of stream improvement work will provide safer travel and reduce impacts to area streams. Past project collaboration has included native Tribes, the State of Washington, adjacent landowners, community-based groups, local rural fire departments, the Bonner County Fire Mitigation Committee, Bonner County emergency management staff, local and regional environmental groups, and other federal and state agencies. Implementation of these projects will create jobs locally through contract work in the county.

In Wyoming, wildland urban interface fuels treatments have been identified as a priority for on the Bighorn National Forest by collaborating partners, local property owners and state and county governments. The Bighorn National Forest Fuels Treatments project reduces hazardous fuels around many summer home cabins and permitted lodges on National Forest System land adjacent to developments on private land. Several hundred acres will be treated. The Dullknife Stewardship Contract is one of the projects included in the Bighorn Fuels Treatment Recovery Act project. This project is designed to provide defensible space to improve firefighter and public safety and reduce fuels for lower fire intensity. The project includes thinning several hundred acres of dense lodgepole pine stands adjacent to private subdivisions by removing saw timber and post and pole material to market, and thinning and masticating or piling non-merchantable material. This project supports skilled local woods workers, truckers, and mill employees. This project has been a collaborative effort of the forest, county Firewise coordinators, private land owners, the Wyoming State Forest Service and BLM fire ecologists.


Week ending 01/3/13 -- The Nacimiento Mine environmental cleanup project is located on the Santa Fe National Forest in Sandoval County, N.M. The work cleaned and restored millions of gallons of groundwater at the Nacimiento Mine near the town of Cuba. The goal of remedial actions at the site is to protect human health and the environment from risks associated with the contaminants of potential concern in groundwater contaminated from previous mining activities. Specific remedial action objectives include remediating chemicals of potential concern levels in groundwater and surface water to current New Mexico standards. The cleanup supports increased economic opportunities and improved quality of life in rural America by creating jobs and treating the surface and ground water for human consumption and for the small farmer/rancher.

The White Mountain Apache Tribe utilized Recovery Act funds to design, construct and operate a native plant nursery to support restoration efforts on the Rodeo-Chediski fire. The native plant nursery provided tribal member employment through all phases of design, development, construction and operation. The White Mountain Apache Tribe Development for Post-Fire Rehabilitation project also supported other tribal jobs by providing plant materials for wildlife and fisheries improvement, watershed restoration and recovery after the removal of invasive species. The design incorporated cost saving measures, including the use of energy-efficient cooling and heating systems.

Mt. Rose Wilderness is a very popular and accessible recreation destination outside of Reno, Nev. The Mount Rose Wilderness Trails Maintenance and Stewardship project provides critical maintenance on many of the most heavily used trails on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Around 100,000 visitors annually enjoy this extraordinary area. The correction of safety issues along those routes is particularly important. This project monitors and corrects the resource impacts associated with this high visitation rate. Young adults were hired to work on a Nevada Conservation Corps crew for the summer. The crew members benefited from the job skills learned, and the environmental education they gained from the project. Community volunteers, managed by a volunteer coordinator hired by Friends of Nevada Wilderness, will leverage project funding. Youth Conservation Corps recruits acquired training and life skills during the project. Providing employment opportunities is valuable in Washoe County, which has had some of the highest unemployment statistics in the Intermountain Region of the Forest Service.

The (Tribal) Pueblo of Santa Clara Forest Restoration and Hazardous Fuels Reduction project identified several priority treatment areas in desperate need of hazardous fuel reduction. Several thousand acres will be treated with this project in the Santa Clara Canyon, for example. Stream restoration techniques and riparian tree planting will also accompany thinning and burning activities to further develop ecological biodiversity and stream geomorphic functioning. After treatment, the tribal community will be encouraged to collect and utilize cut wood for fires to heat residential homes and decrease the amount of down woody fuel loads. After the community collects the usable wood, the Tribe will use a prescribed broadcast burn to remove residual material. The Tribe also intends to treat spruce budworm tree damage to reduce the threat of severe wildfire. The project will also develop several water holding areas for wildlife habitat throughout the headwaters area. Most of the Rio Grande Bosque area requires follow-up and maintenance treatments, thus creating jobs. Many acres will be either initially thinned or will receive follow up maintenance thinning and herbicide application.
 

Week ending 12/27/12 -- The Tongass National Forest Road Decommissioning project, located in the community of Ketchikan on Revillagigdo Island at the southern tip of Alaska, temporarily closed and removed several miles of road to restore the land and restore salmon stream crossings. The Recovery Act project has also reduced maintenance costs. Additional roads were converted to motorized vehicle trails which improved access for subsistence hunting and gathering activities and for recreational users. Workers removed several hundred stream crossing structures and restored their natural drainage patterns. This action reestablished fish passage in salmon streams and reduced sedimentation. Benefits of the project included reduced deferred maintenance as well as right-sizing the road system so that maintenance dollars will now be used toward higher-priority roads. This project will provide long-term benefits to commercial, subsistence, and recreational fishing in the area as well as reducing long-term maintenance costs.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough and Yukon-Koyukuk Area Hazardous Fuels Reduction project funded by the Recovery Act repaired and reconstructed roads for water quality and operability to comply with the Alaska Forest Practices Act. The project installed culverts and included ditching, resurfacing and cleared access to the forest for future harvest of biofuels. Improved access facilitated sustainable forest products industry jobs in the area. In addition, the project created jobs to treat several acres of hazardous fuels in six villages by thinning black spruce and mixed hardwoods 200 feet back from homes and infrastructure facilities to provide defensible space. Following treatment, the acres were converted to natural hardwoods. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, new jobs were created to remove hazardous fuels in Old Murphy Dome Road, Washington Creek, Chatanika River, Salcha, and South Fork Chena River and to pre-commercial thin several acres of densely overstocked lands and complete road maintenance.

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Carson Ranger District's Decommission Unauthorized Routes project funded by the Recovery Act will decommission unauthorized routes that were designated as closed based on past Travel Management Planning Environmental Assessments. Young adults from Nevada Conservation Corps (NCC) were hired to decommission closed unauthorized trails and track routes that can be effectively rehabilitated by hand reseeding and vertical mulching techniques. NCC employment gives young adults valuable life experiences and an education about the outdoors as well as job skills and a pay check. Project results include critical route signing as well as route rehabilitation and decommissioning.to prevent future resource damage. Larger scale closures contributed additional jobs to the depressed construction industry in several counties with high unemployment rates.

Declining lumber markets in recent years, combined with process inefficiencies and a lack of by-product markets, brought about the closure of the Mescalero Apache Tribe’s Mescalero Forest Products enterprise in December 2008. That resulted in the loss of mill and supporting jobs in Lincoln County, N.M. The Mescalero Apache Forest Products project and the Mescalero Apache Woody Biomass Energy Development project are closely related and funded by the Recovery Act. Together, the two are being implemented in 4 phases: 1) Planning, 2) Reengineering/Construction, 3) Operations, and 4) Development of biomass utilization. The sawmill has been a source of employment and revenue for the Tribe, as well as an important tool in the maintenance and management of the Mescalero forest. One project goal is to return the employment opportunities lost with the mill closure. The Tribe has completed a preliminary sawmill feasibility analysis and a woody biomass feasibility assessment in collaboration with the Forest Service’s Forest Products Lab, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Microforestry Resources, Inc. and McNeil Technologies, Inc. The sawmill analysis recommended retooling the mill for small-log processing, improving operational efficiency, undertaking a more in-depth feasibility analysis, and additional business planning. The feasibility assessment included a biomass resource assessment, mill heat and power load assessment, analysis of energy use in tribal facilities, market assessment for biomass-derived products such as electricity, liquid fuels, wood pellets, etc., and a technical and economic evaluation of these various products.
 

Week ending 11/22/12 – A Recovery Act funded project on the Flathead National Forest (Mont.), created job opportunities for upgrading trail conditions and bridges which, in turn, improved access, user safety and recreational experiences. The project reduced a backlog of needed trail maintenance and reconstruction on hundreds of miles of forest trails, including work on three wilderness suspension bridges. The work included removing some trail sections from environmentally sensitive areas, replacing several faulty trail bridges and stabilizing trailheads. With the help of this project, many miles of trails were improved.

In Idaho, the Kootenai Forest Wide Thinning Project improved the health and vigor of tree stands through the removal of smaller diameter trees by contractors or through partnerships. This improved forest health by reducing fuels and increased the native diversity of other species, which made them more resilient to insects and disease. The treatment area involved 2,000 to 3,000 acres. This project created new jobs in areas which have a large unemployment rate. The project aggressively addressed a wide-range of basic needs in the management of forests to ensure healthy, sustainable conditions.

The Sherlock Creek Placer Mining Restoration Project in North Idaho focuses on the heavy metal contamination from three major mines abandoned over 100 years ago. These abandoned mines are a human and an environmental health concern. Contamination on Forest Service and surrounding lands has damaged habitat for many aquatic species, including native trout. The project will treat about 20 acres of floodplain and will results in the removal of nearly 100 tons of contaminated soils. This will benefit Sherlock Creek as it joins the St. Joe Wild and Scenic River. The restoration project will also serve as partial compensation for public losses associated with natural resource injuries and restore Tribal resources. This project cleans up mine waste, rehabilitates stream and floodplain areas, improves human health and safety, and makes significant steps toward improving water quality. Downstream contamination will also be addressed through partnerships with the downstream land owner, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Bureau of Land Management. The ongoing abandoned mine cleanup project partners the Forest Service with the Environmental Protection Agency and ASARCO Incorporated.

Noxious weeds and invasive species are a continuing threat to the health and resiliency of forests and grasslands in Idaho. The Noxious Weeds and Invasive Species Project provides equipment for long-term efforts in fuels reduction and rehabilitation in areas recently damaged by fire or areas where undesirable plant communities have been removed and the areas need replacement by native species. This project will provide jobs and support functions in economically distressed areas of Benewah and Shoshone counties. With multiple objectives of fuels reduction, treatment of noxious weeks, and replacement with native species, this project also improves forest health and contributes to the restoration goals for a healthy, resilient landscape. Nearly two million acres will be treated. Partners include the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and Benewah and Shoshone counties.
 

Week ending 11/15/12 -- The Grey Towers Restoration Project in Pennsylvania will repair various deficiencies with the buildings and grounds at the 123-year-old Grey Towers National Historic Site. The site was the home of Gifford Pinchot, first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service and the state’s governor for two terms. In 1963, Gifford Bryce Pinchot, son of Gifford and Cornelia, donated Grey Towers and 102 acres to the Forest Service. Today the agency works with numerous partners to carry on the Pinchot's legacy. At Grey Towers staffs deliver public conservation education programs and interpretive tours as well as hosting conferences and leadership development programs for the nation’s land managers. The project will restore areas of the historic landscape, improve visitor safety and site security, provide a more sustainable facility, and enhance the visitor experience The project employs Job Corps students for some aspects of the work. This project will eliminate backlogged facility maintenance needs at Grey Towers and will ensure the historic site is maintained in a sustainable manner for years to come.

The Sealaska Native Corporation Forest Health Project involves early forest stand culturing of 1500 acres of harvested Alaska Native Corporation forests for the villages of Kake, Hoonah, Klawock, Craig, Klukwan, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Saxman, Yakutat, Goldbelt, Shee Atika and Angoon. Natural regeneration in Southeast Alaska following environmental disturbances or timber harvests produces unhealthy and prolific regrowth of 3,000 to 5,000 trees per acre. As weaker trees decline and die out, overall forest health declines. Treatment methods were designed to select the most desirable crop tree and create variable width openings for biodiversity. The favored tree species are Red Cedar, Yellow Cedar, Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock. Reduced stocking allows sunlight to reach the forest floor for the benefit of understory plants thus creating improved habitat, deer forage, forest health and ecosystem functions and long term sustainability. The project has also promoted integrated resource management among private landowners and improved long term forest sustainability. The experience attained from this project enabled workers to obtain longer term employment on other Southeast Alaska private and public forest lands.

The Iditarod National Historic Trail, south of Anchorage, Alaska, commemorates America's last great gold rush. It connects the public to a time when sled dogs and mushers hauled tons of mail and supplies over many miles of frozen trail and tundra. The Chugach National Forest staff is restoring and developing over 180 miles of year-round recreation trail along the Southern Trek of the Iditarod between Seward and Girdwood. The project will install or replace seven interpretive information kiosks at trailheads and complete two priority segments from Johnson Pass through Turnagain Pass and from Primrose north to Vagt Lake. These trail segments will provide outstanding year-round opportunities to enjoy the trail within a one or two hour drive of Anchorage.

The Chama Hazardous Fuels Project in New Mexico has reduced the possibility of ash and other wildfire-related contaminants entering the Canadian River. Treatment methods for the project include mastication of standing dead trees. This mastication of the heavily stocked stands has encouraged new growth of grasses and forbs that are beneficial to wildlife. In addition to the creation of jobs, the project is enhancing the habitat of riparian species. Through field trips and presentations on treatment methods, landowners will become self-reliant in implementing their own treatment plans and the public will become more aware of the need for riparian treatment and restoration. More importantly, the treatment moves the riparian components of the watershed towards a trajectory of restoration. 


Week ending 11/08/12 -- Alabama has an abundance of natural resources including millions of acres of timberland -- the foundation for a thriving ecosystem, diverse wildlife and fisheries and a multitude of recreational opportunities. The Alabama Prescribe Burning and Hazard Fuel Reduction project targets small landowners and assists them with fuel reduction activities such as prescribed burning, creating fuel breaks and fire lines, and mulching. These allow landowners to treat areas that normally remain untouched. In addition, small landowners are educated about the importance of prescribed burning.

In many forested regions in the western U.S., including the Sierra Nevada, there has been a significant increase in the growth of small-diameter trees and understory vegetation. Overstocked stands can increase the risk of insect, disease, fire, and drought damage, and they are costly to manage. The Granite Saw Log Biomass project on the Stanislaus National Forest generates material that retains local jobs for truckers, loggers and production facility workers. The project has thinned almost 3,000 acres of plantation and completed more than 300 road construction items. In addition, many tons of biomass and sawlogs were removed. Finding economical and marketable uses for this biomass, can provide opportunities for local communities to benefit while helping to offset forest management costs. Also in the Stanislaus National Forest, the Non-Motor/Non-Wilderness Trail project provides an opportunity for young people who cut trees, brush and clear debris to gain significant workplace skills. The workers are constructing several miles of trails and are rehabilitating several more miles of existing trails on the Calaveras Ranger District in San Domingo Canyon. The project adds more miles to the Arnold Rim Trail, connecting Hathaway Pines to White Pines Lake. These trails are non-motorized multiple use trails for walkers, hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders. The crew is also building stream crossings, drainage structures and other trail stabilizing features to protect trail tread. The project also corrects existing and potential resource damage from erosion and sedimentation on existing trails. This project improves the safety, continuity and visitor experience on trails.
 

Week ending 11/01/12 -- The Pacific Northwest Research Station Road Maintenance project has completed road repairs on PNW Research Station properties. These repairs ensured safe access for personnel and the public. The project included erosion control activities, improving water quality and ecosystem integrity. This erosion control and infrastructure project included grading and resurfacing roads, striping parking areas and correcting drainage issues. The work occurred at the Corvallis Forestry Sciences Laboratory, Olympia Forestry Science Laboratory, and Wenatchee Forestry Sciences Laboratory, and on the following experimental forests: Cascade Head, H.J. Andrews, Pringle Falls, Starkey, and Wind River.

Through the Juneau Watershed Partnership, the Alaska Weed Management provided training for invasive plant/weed coordinators for eight Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Alaska including Juneau. These coordinators will be employed year-round for one year. In the summer they will conduct invasive plant surveys and control projects with the assistance of a six-person roving work crew, shared by all districts. This project will interrupt vectors of invasive plants being introduced and establishing in areas most recently burned by wildfire. The Alaska Association of Conservation Districts and the Alaska Natural Heritage Program participated in the project.

The Coyote Creek Stream Gauge Stations Reconstruction Project on the Umpqua National Forest is initiating contemporary forest treatments to meet current forest health objectives. The region contains high value salmon habitat. Information about the effects of forest management on year-round stream conditions is critical for maintaining a habitat for fish species that have immense economic and cultural values. The information gained from these restored gage stations is enabling evaluation of these contemporary forest treatments on stream flow. This project will also strengthen the national experimental forest network by bringing in an experimental forest that has been essentially dormant for 20 years. This infrastructure improvement project is restoring deteriorated, unsafe gage stations, and work spaces and is utilizing solar energy where feasible.

Airborne remote sensing and fuels mapping of targeted fuels reduction projects will help the forest health community with an important layer of information for their fuels management decisions. The FireMapper thermal-imaging radiometer has been under development by the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) and its partners. It has provided rapid response fire intelligence in support of fire suppression operations on several large fires during Santa Ana wind events, including the Poomacha, Corral, Harris, Rice, Slide, and Santiago fires. PSW also imaged the Summit, Basin, Indian, Clover, Oliver, North Mountain, and Piute fires during the California fire emergency several years ago. Thermal-infrared images were transmitted by satellite communications from the PSW Airborne Sciences Aircraft, assembled into mosaics and displayed in near time at http://www.fireimaging.com for use by incident management teams. The same technology is being used to map forest health conditions and forest mortality.
 

Week ending 10/19/2012 -- The Ravalli County Facility Project on the Bitterroot National Forest reconstructed or refurbished numerous recreation sites, campgrounds, and historic buildings, which included several Forest Service administrative facilities built in the 1950s and currently in disrepair. Workers constructed upgrades to improve safety for forest visitors and employees. As a result, the facilities became energy efficient and environmentally-friendly, thus reducing deferred maintenance. Among the new installations were a pavilion, outhouse, picnic tables, group fire ring, gravel pathways and parking areas in Lake Como's Rock Creek Group Site. Reconstructing the Upper Como Campground included replacing fire rings and picnic tables, installing four walk-in tent camp sites, two new outhouses, and a new loop with additional camp sites -- which doubled their current capacity. Partners in this project were the Trapper Creek Jobs Corps and Back Country Horsemen. The diligence of these workers included the restoration of Lake Como's Historic Woods Cabin. The workers also built new parking spurs and surfaced the road at the Warm Springs Campground.

The Oregon Department of Forestry manages about 780,000 acres of timberland. A Forest Service Recovery Act grant was awarded to the state for Forest Health Improvements on State Forest Lands. One objective of this project is to increase the health, vigor, and resiliency of young forest stands through pre-commercial thinning for stand density reduction on 5,420 acres. The grant also includes a survey for invasive plants on 2,320 acres which prevents and contains the spread of invasive plants such as Scotch broom, Japanese knotweed, false brome and garlic mustard. Finally, the grant allows for surveys to obtain information on the Douglas-fir stands, which were most severely infected with Swiss Needle Cast (SNC). The surveys can be used in the SNC model to gauge growth performance of infected stands. This project is expected to be completed by the end of calendar year 2012, but actual accomplishments have exceeded planned accomplishments.

The Eastern Washington Private Land Forest Health Project focuses on non-federal lands in Spokane, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry, and Okanogan counties located in Northeastern Washington. The project utilizes strategies for identifying and prioritizing land management activities: to treat 1,564 acres of high-risk forest conditions to improve forest health and reduce risk of catastrophic wildfires, to develop an on-the-ground forest health assessment tool, to prepare 22 forest management plans, and to implement educational communications to landowners and the public. Treatments to improve forest health and reduce risk to wildfire include thinning overstocked and dwarf mistletoe-infested forests; pruning to treat dwarf mistletoe and reduce fire risk in high priority areas; slash treatments including mastication, burning, chipping and piling; and developing forest management plans. Workers provide advice and assistance to private land owners in managing their forest lands in order to maintain healthy forests and to provide assistance in developing land management plans. This advice will form a long-term guideline to help manage forests in the future. This grant is expected to be completed by August 2013.
 

Week ending 10/12/2012 -- The Northwest Montana Counties Trail Maintenance and Reconstruction project created job opportunities on the Flathead, Kootenai and Lolo National Forests. Montana Conservation Corps and Student Conservation Association enrollees worked on several of the projects which included upgrading trail conditions and bridges which improved access, user safety and recreation experiences. The Flathead National Forest project reduced a backlog of needed trail maintenance and reconstruction on hundreds of miles of forest trails, including work on three wilderness suspension bridges. The Lolo National Forest project funded the improvement and maintenance of approximately 300 miles of trails which improved visitor safety. Trail sections were removed from environmentally sensitive areas, faulty trail bridges were removed and trailheads were stabilized. The Kootenai National Forest projects included heavy trail maintenance, bridge replacement and trail improvement which provided full accessibility standards around Little Therriault Lake. For visitor safety, all three forests maintained many miles of trails and installed trail signs throughout the forest.

Last month in Utah, the Parowan Front Recovery Act funded project ended. A bark beetle infestation in the Douglas-fir/white fir stands has affected all the communities in this area. The mixture of other primary vegetation such as gamble oak, sagebrush and pinion/juniper presents the area with a “high” to “extreme” fire danger. Over a span of two years, contractors built fuel breaks to create a barrier for any advancing fire occurring under normal conditions from entering the town of Parowan, a community of primary residences. In addition to reducing catastrophic wildland fire danger, this project served as an educational process for property owners and their contribution to the work also allowed for individual lot mitigation.

On Oct. 20, the Inyo National Forest, the Town of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and other partners will celebrate the completion of the Lakes Basin Path and the Mammoth Lakes Trail System signage program that was funded in part with Forest Service Recovery Act money. Local town and county officials, tourism partners, and Forest Service personnel will join the event to commemorate the multi-year effort to add 5.3 miles to the trail system that offers spectacular views of the Mammoth Lakes Basin that straddles the California–Nevada border. The multi-faceted project that included building 3,400 feet of trail, a bridge, and a tunnel along with designing, fabricating, and installing hundreds of signs to contribute to visitor safety and enjoyment has enhanced local tourism opportunities while indirectly contributing to the local economy.

Bark beetles have been active in northeastern Oregon on all types of forested ownerships. Forests are stressed by drought and overstocking which exacerbates bark beetle activity. The NE Oregon Forest Health Block Grant awarded $2,243,000 for forest health and fuel reduction activities on private lands in the area and will thin trees to increase spacing. This technique is effective in increasing tree vigor by reducing competition. Removing the slash caused by this activity further reduces the likelihood of additional bark beetle activity as well as reducing the fuels loading and potential for increased fire risk. The objectives of this project were to treat approximately 3,060 acres of private forest land by thinning to improve forest health and reduce susceptibility to bark beetles, address hazardous fuels loading, and reduce wildfire risk. The grant work is almost done and is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

9/28/2012 -- On Nov. 1 in California, the Los Padres National Forest Monterey Ranger District in King City will be the site of an open house to commemorate its new Recovery Act funded office. Congressman Sam Farr along with other dignitaries will be invited to attend the event celebrating replacement of obsolete buildings in use for several decades with an 8,000-square-foot Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified structure. In late June employees began using the new building that demonstrates a commitment to local community wellbeing by maintaining the agency’s presence in a remote location. The King City office is one of several buildings in the Pacific Southwest Region either repaired or replaced using Recovery Act funds, resulting in improved service to the public while contributing to significant employment opportunities and sustainable operations.

9/27/2012 -- In Idaho, Montana, and Washington, Forest Service Recovery Act funded grant studies concerning how pyrolysis* produces potentially useful new forest products called bio-oil and biochar** are advancing scientific understanding of biochar’s soil improvement and carbon sequestration capabilities. This past summer researchers presented material at the 2012 U.S. Biochar Conference** in Sonoma County, Calif. Rocky Mountain Research Station Research Soil Scientist Debbie Page-Dumroese co-authored a paper that Dr. Mark Coleman of the University of Idaho presented that includes data from three field trials with biochar and laboratory studies. In addition, Page-Dumroese co-authored a poster that University of Idaho graduate student Dan Smith exhibited. Besides providing research and development jobs, this important project that could facilitate new uses and markets for forest products to help reduce national dependence on foreign oil, support new industries in rural areas, and reduce greenhouse gases will continue until next Sept. 2013.
*Pyrolysis is the heating of an organic material, such as biomass, in the absence of oxygen. Because no oxygen is present, the material does not combust, but the chemical compounds -- cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin -- that make up that material thermally decompose into combustible gases and charcoal. Most of these combustible gases can be condensed into a combustible liquid, called bio-oil, though there are some permanent gases. Thus, pyrolysis of biomass produces three products: one liquid, bio-oil; one solid, biochar; and one gaseous, syngas (USDA Agricultural Research Service 2011).
**The U.S. Biochar Initiative, a nonprofit organization promoting the sustainable production and use of biochar, sponsors the annual conference.

9/26/2012 -- In Washington state, a Forest Service Recovery Act grant has been helping the Spokane Tribe address its silvicultural* treatment backlog and thereby improving forest health, vigor, and sustainability on tribal lands where the tribe’s forest management plan calls for pre-commercial thinning and fuels mitigation on 3,400 acres annually. Prior to the Recovery Act funded work that began in 2009, the tribe had historically only been able to treat about 200 acres per year on its nearly 900,000 acres of commercial forest lands. Thus far, tribal contractors have conducted pre-commercial thinning and fuels mitigation treatments on over 8,600 acres and have prepared an additional 600 acres for treatment under the oversight of tribal foresters and contract administrators. The $2.2 million grant that will end on Dec. 31 has been providing significant employment opportunities for numerous forest industry workers while helping prevent and minimize the impacts of bark beetle and dwarf mistletoe parasites.
*Silviculture is the practice of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet diverse needs and values. The name comes from the Latin silvi- (forest) + culture (as in growing).

9/25/2012 -- In Utah, Forest Service Recovery Act funds have bolstered efforts to reduce catastrophic wildfire danger in the wildland-urban interface east of Cedar City near the Dixie National Forest. The State of Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands has been administering the grant to support thinning and fuel-break development work on private and state lands within the Mountain Center area where bark beetle infestations in Douglas and white fir stands have increased the need to remove dead and dying trees to protect people and property from devastating crown fires. Workers on the project that will be finished by the end of the month have included state fuels crew members and seasonal staff.

9/24/2012 -- On Sept. 21, federal, state, tribal, and local leaders gathered at Chimney Rock in southwest Colorado to recognize the site’s archaeological, cultural, geologic, and prehistoric significance in recognition of President Obama’s designation of Chimney Rock as a national monument. Recovery Act funded work finished last year included installation of moisture monitors in prehistoric walls to help archaeologists evaluate the efficiency of past stabilization efforts and to identify and address future stabilization problems before damage occurs. Contractors and partners also built a concrete cap on crumbling masonry walls around the upper parking lot to deflect water and removed a fire lookout tower that detracted from the unique archaeological setting of the San Juan National Forest world-class ancestral Puebloan site. In addition, workers installed interpretive signs at the lower visitor parking lot offering information on the lookout tower and fire suppression history. Supporters of the national monument designation believe the title will augment Colorado’s economy through increased tourism.

9/21/2012 -- This week the Forest Service confirmed just under 1,120 jobs were reported through the calendar year 2012 second quarter Recovery Act recipient reporting period that ended July 14. A project to reduce wildfire threat in central and southwest Oregon on the Deschutes, Ochoco, Rogue River-Siskiyou, and Umpqua national forests produced just over 70 jobs, the most reported for the quarter. The second highest job number reported was nearly 70 for an administrative facilities repair and replacement project at six locations throughout California.

On September 19 in Maine, federal, state, local, and economic development officials gathered to commission Northern Maine Community College’s new biomass wood boiler supported with Forest Service Recovery Act funds. Designed to replace nearly 70 percent of the college’s fuel oil consumption with local, renewable energy, the boiler is said to be the first of its kind for the state’s entire community college system. The project is one of 22 Maine Forest Service-administered Recovery Act grants valued at $11.4 million awarded to schools, universities, medical centers, and other public buildings around the state for the installation of wood-energy boilers that are contributing to increased forest industry growth and supporting forest health. All projects are on track to be finished by the end of 2012.

9/20/2012 -- In Nevada, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are helping landowners reduce hazardous fuels in Lyons and Washoe county neighborhoods within the wildland-urban interface. The work that includes building fuel breaks as well as creating defensible space on individual properties has already slowed at least one advancing wildfire, allowing firefighters to safely protect a Smith Valley neighborhood. The $2.2 million grant to the State of Nevada has allowed for numerous sub-grants designed to improve public and firefighter safety while reducing wildfire suppression costs and creating local jobs. For example, sub-grantee Smith Valley Conservation District is using funds for planning and project implementation and will complete its efforts in fiscal year 2013.

In California, the photovoltaic system at the San Dimas Technology and Development Center primarily funded with Recovery Act dollars has attracted media attention noting the system's emergence as the first zero-net energy facility in the Forest Service. The project that will save the Forest Service over $100,000 annually and should pay for itself within 10 years is one of over 40 Recovery Act-funded projects around the nation supporting the agency's commitment to sustainable operations.

9/19/2012 -- On October 20, the Inyo National Forest, the Town of Mammoth Lakes, California, and other partners will celebrate the completion of the Lakes Basin Path and the Mammoth Lakes Trail System signage program that was funded in part with Forest Service Recovery Act money. Local town and county officials, tourism partners, and Forest Service personnel will join the event to commemorate the multi-year effort to add 5.3 miles to the trail system that offers spectacular views of the Mammoth Lakes Basin —south to Crowley Lake and east to the White Mountain range that straddles the California–Nevada border. The multi-faceted project that included building 3,400 feet of trail, a bridge, and a tunnel along with designing, fabricating, and installing hundreds of signs to contribute to visitor safety and enjoyment has enhanced local tourism opportunities while indirectly contributing to the local economy.

9/18/2012 -- Last month, Conservation Corps Minnesota workers finished their final season of Recovery Act funded trail maintenance work on the Superior National Forest in Minnesota. This summer crews worked over 16,000 hours to clear 127 trail miles and repair 8,170-feet of tread, 535-feet of boardwalk, 49 steps, 13 bridges, and eight drainage features on popular trails such as the Superior Hiking Trail, Pincushion Mountain Biking Trail, Kekekabic Trail, and Flathorn Gegoka Ski Trail. Since project work began seasonally in 2009, Corps members contributed over 71,000 hours total to clear and maintain over 670 miles of trail; remove nearly 9,000 hazard trees; install or replace almost 5,000 feet of boardwalk, over 450 steps, nearly 225 drainage features, and 20 bridges; and reconstruct several miles of trail tread. The activities augmented the Corps’ hands-on environmental stewardship and service-learning opportunities for hundreds of young people while improving outdoor recreation opportunities for visitors for years to come. 

9/17/2012 -- On the Wayne National Forest in Ohio, Recovery Act-funded workers have been improving habitat for fish and other aquatic species while enhancing recreational experiences for the public. The work involving road-crossing reconstruction and resurfacing and a fish-passage stream simulation design is the final step in an ongoing partnership between the Forest and Ohio Department of Transportation to improve fish passage along Forest Highway 26. Local contractors have been involved in the efforts that are opening several miles of stream and river tributaries in the Little Muskingum drainage, a high-value watershed in Washington County. Work that will indirectly benefit local economies through increased tourism revenues will be finished before the end of the year.

9/14/2012 -- In South Dakota, the Black Hills National Forest recently produced a virtual tour of the Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower that Recovery Act funds helped renovate in 2010. The video is designed to share the tower experience with people who may not have a chance to see it firsthand. In 2010, Box Elder Civilian Conservation Center Job Corps program students and a stone mason specializing in historical restoration worked to restore and repair the tower’s original rock masonry. The workers built a foundation under the base to help direct drainage away from the tower and reconstructed the stairs to make the structure compliant with current federal safety standards along with installing a removable roof over the parapet to divert water and snow runoff away from the top of the tower. Seth Bullock, an early Black Hills National Forest supervisor, built the tower in 1919 in honor of his friend President Theodore Roosevelt. Prior to the repairs, the tower had been closed, but now visitors can safely go to the top just as was originally intended.

9/13/2012 -- On non-federal lands in northeastern Washington, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are helping private landowners maintain healthy forests through activities such as natural resource training and outreach opportunities; field-level forest health assessments; land management plan development; and hazardous fuels reduction work. The Washington Department of Natural Resources is overseeing the effort that, thus far, has included development of around 20 forest management plans and thinning work on just over 1,000 acres in high-priority treatment areas. Contractors are removing trees and conducting slash treatments, including mastication, burning, chipping, and piling, in overstocked and/or dwarf mistletoe-infested forests. By the time all work is finished in August 2013, Recovery Act funded workers will have contributed to improved forest health and reduced catastrophic wildfire risk on over 1,500 acres in Ferry, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, and Stevens counties.

9/12/2012 -- In California, two Recovery Act funded photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into electricity now connected to Southern California Edison’s (SCE) power grid are saving thousands of dollars in annual utility costs while contributing to sustainable operations. The Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center photovoltaic system, functioning since mid-May, gives the Inyo National Forest approximately $25,000 in rebates through the California Solar Initiative program. Additionally, the reduced energy usage is expected to save the Forest approximately $8,000 per year. The system at the San Dimas Technology and Development Center (SDTDC) originally finished in late 2010 became operational with its connection to SCE’s power grid in late July. In addition to helping reduce greenhouse gases, the system expected to save SDTDC over $70,000 in annual utility costs will also allow SDTDC to apply credit to the SCE electric meter at the Angeles National Forest for excess SDTDC electricity generated, which is anticipated to be $15,000 to $30,000 annually. SDTDC plans to host a dedication ceremony this coming fall or winter.

9/11/2012 -- Since October 2010 in Puerto Rico, Recovery Act funded workers have been helping minimize the Institute of Tropical Forestry's (IITF) impact on the environment through several storm-water management plan activities at its headquarters at the San Juan Botanical Gardens in Rio Piedras. Contractors have been applying gravel, soil, grass, and vegetation to three IITF roof surfaces and building "green" parking by removing asphalt pavement and installing grass/permeable pavers in the main parking area in addition to creating storm-water retention ponds. Recovery Act funded work to complete the updated plan allowing sustainable rainwater reuse through natural retention will be finished by November, facilitating IITF' s ability to showcase environmentally friendly development for other agencies, universities, and the public.

9/10/2012 -- In Wyoming on the Bighorn National Forest, Recovery Act funded work to upgrade the Hunter Trailhead and Campground is now finished. For the past three field seasons, contractors worked to build a new trailhead and campground with associated spurs, tables, fire rings, restrooms, trash facilities, informational kiosks, and day-use parking. The renovations also included improved horse amenities such as corrals, hitch racks, and feed bunks. In addition to increasing user capacity, addressing mixed-use conflicts, and providing for overnight camping, the project's strategic relocation of some of the infrastructure has eliminated ongoing resource damage, as the former trailhead was located within the water influence zone, and the old corrals infringed upon wetlands. Outdoor recreationists have expressed appreciation concerning the improvements that will also boost the local tourism industry for years to come.

9/7/2012 -- The South Dakota Department of Tourism credits recent increased tourism at least in part to wildfire mitigation and suppression efforts that have helped reduce the risk of large, intense wildfires that damage resources, endanger people, and produce extreme smoke. Since 2010, Forest Service Recovery Act funded thinning and prescribed- and pile- burning operations have lessened catastrophic wildfire risk on thousands of acres of Black Hills National Forest and state and private lands near several communities in the wildland-urban interface. This month contractors will finish work on two projects designed to reduce wildfire risk, enhance wildlife habitat, and help protect tree stands from landscape-scale insect and disease outbreaks. In addition to the indirect benefits to the tourism economy, the activities have also supported local forest workers and related industries.

9/6/2012 -- In Oregon's Lane and Linn counties, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are helping small forest landowners reduce or eliminate invasive noxious weeds that can spread rapidly through forest lands and often compete with or displace desirable native plants. The Oregon Department of Forestry is administering the grant supporting removal of false brome, Scotch broom, Japanese knotweed, and other unwanted vegetation that can adversely affect forest ecologies and watershed health. Work is ongoing on the project that has treated around 250 acres to date; all activities are scheduled for completion by the end of the month.

9/5/2012 -- In southern Oregon, Recovery Act funded repairs on Agness Road ongoing since May 2011 are 98 percent finished with remaining work scheduled for completion by the end of the month. An Oregon contractor made repairs along over 20 miles of road, including multiple culvert installations; numerous down-drain and spillway assemblies; trench dig outs and excavation; road stabilization geo-grid patches; retaining walls; and bridge rail modifications. Last month, workers finished pavement patching, chip-seal road surface treatments, and striping along the route also known as County Road 595 that serves as the main access to the community of Agness from Gold Beach as well as a primary public access corridor along the Rogue River. In addition to reducing deferred maintenance and enhancing public safety, the newly restored road will bring indirect economic benefits to local communities for years to come as visitors enjoy a smoother ride to camping, fishing, hiking, rafting, and other outdoor recreational opportunities on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

9/4/2012 -- In August, partners in the five-state Forest Service Recovery Actfunded Regional Longleaf Restoration Initiative released a final report. The 11-page document available at http://www.southernfireexchange.org/etc/ARRA_Longleaf.pdf outlines the project's beginnings and documents its success in establishing or improving over 75,000 acres of longleaf pine habitat on state and private land, improving seed collection areas and increasing nursery capacity, and conducting education opportunities for forestry professionals and private landowners while creating and retaining hundreds of natural resource positions. The efforts have substantially contributed to the March 2009 Range-wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine with the goal of collaboratively increasing longleaf pine acreage to eight million acres and improving 1.5 million acres of existing habitat over the next 15 years in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

In Montana, on the Bitterroot National Forest, a campground recently renovated with Recovery Act funds remains closed in the interest of public safety while a local contractor removes beetle-killed trees in the Lake Como area. In addition to improving people's safety, cutting hazard trees will strengthen remaining trees against future insect attacks. In 2011 the popular Three Frogs Campground re-opened following Recovery Act funded work to restore existing camping sites with larger pull-ins, designated tent sites, and new picnic tables and fire pits while adding a new loop that nearly doubled the campground's size to support area visitor numbers that have doubled in the last five years.

8/31/2012 -- In mid-August, the Institute for a Sustainable Environment at the University of Oregon produced a brief article outlining how formal agreements between the Forest Service and community based-organizations under the Recovery Act created social and livelihood benefits. The paper produced through the Ecosystem Workforce Program reported that various agreement structures can benefit communities and referenced a larger publication with more details, Working Paper #38, USDA Forest Service agreements with community-based organizations, which is available on the Web at http://ewp.uoregon.edu/publications/working . The report outlines the community benefits of Recovery Act projects on three national forests in Oregon and northern California.

8/28/2012 -- In Massachusetts, the Forest Service recently awarded an additional $1 million grant to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation for further tree restoration in the wake of the Asian long horn beetle infestation that caused the removal of 30,000 trees from Worcester and surrounding towns as a result of the epidemic that began in 2008. Successful replacement efforts through a $4.5 million Forest Service Recovery Act grant that ended in July served to encourage the use of additional funds to replace shade trees to help reduce urban heat island effects and improve community aesthetics within neighborhoods.

8/27/2012 -- At the end of the month, Recovery Act funded work through a Forest Service grant to the Georgia Forestry Commission to support invasive species control, including cogongrass, will be finished. The three-year effort brought jobs, technical training, and valuable experience as invasive plant surveys and treatments occurred on approximately 8,200 acres of public and private lands throughout Georgia. In addition, professionals and landowners around the state learned more about invasive species and effective control techniques. The grant projects also brought together groups that had not worked together before, forging new relationships among state and federal employees, contractors, foresters, laborers, and landowners to facilitate more effective invasive species eradication efforts in the future. In addition to supporting the Cogongrass Task Force's goal of detecting and eradicating all cogongrass in Georgia, the grant also focused the public's attention on numerous invasive species and the dangers they present.

8/24/2012 -- For the past three summer field seasons, Recovery Act funded Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) crews have been conducting trail reconstruction and maintenance work on the Kootenai National Forest to improve outdoor recreation opportunities for hundreds of thousands of annual visitors. MCC crews are reconstructing trail tread through fire-burned areas and acquired lands that have been logged, rerouting trails in problem areas, and completing heavy brushing and drainage work on over 70 miles of trails across the forest. The work has included over 30 individual projects, employing five to eight young people for 70 weeks beginning in 2010 with the project finishing up this summer. In addition to providing conservation training opportunities for youth, the recent projects on the Kootenai will benefit recreationists for years to come.

8/23/2012 -- In Idaho on Aug. 22, the Sawtooth National Forest celebrated 40 years of preserving and protecting the historic, natural, pastoral, scenic, and fish and wildlife values of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (NRA) where Recovery Act funds were used to produce the Sawtooth NRA interpretive plan, which was delivered earlier this year. Festivities were held at both the Sawtooth NRA Headquarters and the Stanley Ranger Station where signs were unveiled introducing a new image designed as part of the interpretive plan that will be used to feature a new Sawtooth NRA brand. Activities for younger visitors, displays, refreshments, and Smokey Bear were among special events at the open houses.

8/22/2012 -- In Worcester, Mass., a recently completed Forest Service Recovery Act grant to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for tree restoration in the city of Worcester and surrounding areas in the wake of the Asian long horn beetle infestation produced significant results. In 2010, DCR began replanting trees to replace the nearly 30,000 that had been removed from Worcester and surrounding towns to mitigate the beetle's effects since the epidemic began in 2008. In addition to increasing tree-species diversity to prevent further mass devastation during future outbreaks, the effort replaced more than 17,400 street, parkland, and private-residence trees. The project that brought work for local adults and teens during four planting seasons will continue to benefit neighborhoods aesthetically and through reduced energy use for cooling as shade returns to homes and businesses.

8/21/2012 -- Last week, a nationally-recognized reporter published a book in which Forest Service Recovery Act-funded solar installation work was featured. The book was written to show how the Recovery Act helped prevent a depression while jump-starting President Obama's agenda for lasting change. National Public Radio interviewed Time Magazine Senior National Correspondent Michael Grunwald concerning The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era, in which author calls the Recovery Act one of the most important and least understood pieces of legislation in the nation's history. Among material supporting Recovery Act-funded positive change in the over-500-page volume is the solar energy expansion project at the Wayne National Forest Supervisor's office in Ohio that now generates nearly 20 percent of the building's electricity annually.

8/20/2012 -- In Montana, Recovery Act funded work to reconstruct the Minton Peak Lookout outside of Trout Creek has ensured the historic facility's preservation while adding to recreational opportunities for Kootenai National Forest visitors. Beginning in 2010 a local contractor began restoring the lookout that had been boarded up for several years and was in danger of falling over. The newly restored structure no longer poses a safety hazard and will be added to the Forest's cabin rental program in 2013, joining nearly a dozen other rentals across the Forest. Recovery Act funds also supported upgrades on other lookouts, such as siding and window replacements and new propane cook stoves. In addition to helping maintain these unique structures, the improvements will enhance safe, comfortable, and quality recreation opportunities for the public, indirectly supporting the local economy.

8/17/2012 -- In Idaho this month, Recovery Act funded contractors will finish significant repairs and upgrades to the Lolo Pass Visitor Center, a major hub along the Lewis and Clark All-American Road* on the Clearwater National Forest. While much of the structural refurbishments to improve safety, services, and recreational opportunities took place in 2011, the short construction season at the pass left some work to be finished this year. Door, roof, and window replacements along with flooring and exterior concrete work were among projects undertaken to better meet the needs of around 80,000 annual visitors who enjoy the area's history and four-season recreational pursuits. Workers also improved drainage, lighting, restrooms, and signage along with re-staining exteriors to further add to the facelift that will reduce maintenance costs and enhance local economies for years to come.
*An All-American Road is a National Scenic Byway recognized by the United States Department of Transportation for two of six intrinsic qualities-archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and/or scenic-instead of only one as National Scenic Byway status requires. The nation's 31 All-American Roads have features that do not exist elsewhere in the United States and are unique and important enough to be tourist destinations unto themselves.

8/16/2012 -- Last month in Virginia, the town of Woodstock hosted a ribbon cutting event at the Indian Spring Wetland Observation Area where Forest Service Recovery Act funds supported an ongoing multiple-partnership greenway enhancement project to develop the area for interpretation and use by school and civic groups and the general public. A local contractor built a deck overlooking the spring and nearby wetlands to make the location accessible to people of all abilities. Other funding will help plant native species and expand the park to include a trail and boardwalk around the nearby retention pond. The Virginia Department of Forestry administered the Recovery Act grant as part of a larger project designed to help communities within the Shenandoah Valley Watershed with urban forestry activities such as community tree planting and tree maintenance/hazard mitigation work, stream bank restoration and riparian buffer establishment; and greenway enhancement efforts while providing employment opportunities for arborists, landscapers, and other contractors.

8/15/2012 -- In Idaho on the Salmon-Challis National Forest, contractors are nearly finished with three Recovery Act funded bridge replacements on the busy Salmon River Road where around 500 vehicles travel daily from May through September. Workers are making significant progress daily in efforts to replace 1950s-era load-restricted structures crossing Cove, Little Pine, and Pine creeks that have prevented heavy loads such as dump trucks from crossing, making routine road maintenance difficult. Some of the new structures are now open for one-way traffic as crews continue with concrete deck pours and excavation and embankment work. The Federal Highway Administration is overseeing the work that will improve travel for local residents along with visitors seeking to enjoy recreation activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, river floating, and wilderness backcountry use. While current travelers are experiencing small delays in the interest of public and worker safety, the finished work will offer long-term safety benefits while indirectly contributing to local tourism economies.

8/14/2012 -- In Montana, on the Flathead National Forest Hungry Horse and Spotted Bear ranger districts, Recovery Act funded workers are nearly finished with extensive road maintenance and decommissioning activities along with other efforts designed to enhance traveler safety and enjoyment while reducing impacts to endangered and sensitive species and improving watershed health. Work has included re-surfacing approximately 65 miles of road; re-building two bridges; reconstructing two trailheads; improving six stream crossings; treating noxious weeds; and decommissioning approximately 55 miles of road. In addition to reducing the forest's road maintenance and reconstruction backlog, the project has brought jobs and improved access to some of Flathead County's most popular recreation outlets in an area rich in outdoor recreation opportunities that supports a diversity of wildlife, including the endangered grizzly bear and bull trout.

8/13/2012 -- This month in California, the Mammoth Lakes Trail System signage program, funded in part with Forest Service Recovery Act dollars, continues. Local subcontractors are installing hundreds of directional signs and several interpretive signs on the new Lakes Basin Path, a multi-year, multi-partner trail construction project providing unrivalled access to the spectacular Lakes Basin. Since 2010, Forest Service Recovery Act funds have been supporting work to build 3,400 feet of trail, a bridge, and a tunnel along with designing, fabricating, and installing signs. Local residents and visitors are enjoying the new path that has added 5.3 miles to the trail system to improve recreation experiences in Mammoth Lakes and the Inyo National Forest, indirectly contributing to the local economy. This round of project work using Recovery Act funds will be finished this fall.

8/10/2012 -- In Montana, Youth Conservation Corps crews working on the Kootenai National Forest this summer recently removed debris from the beach in the McGillivray recreation area, where Recovery Act funded workers finished extensive renovations at McGillivray Campground last fall. Originally built in the early 1970s, the newly restored facilities include an upgraded water system and restrooms and two new group sites with picnic tables, fire pits, large grills, and multiple tent pads to accommodate up to 25 people. Local contractors also built long pull-through parking to accommodate larger recreational vehicles. The current campground host said visitors are enthused about the improvements that have reduced natural resource impacts while enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities on the west side of popular Lake Koocanusa.

8/9/2012 -- When National Forests in North Carolina staff and visitors gathered at the Cradle of Forestry to celebrate Smokey Bear's 68th birthday last weekend, they benefitted from Recovery Act-funded roof replacements and interpretive trail upgrades finished over the past two years. In 2010 workers replaced deteriorating cedar shake roofs while preserving the center's historic integrity. In 2011 work to re-grade and pave more than one mile of the Discovery Trail along with building resting places and improving drainage and trail gradient where possible made the popular trail accessible for people of all abilities. Before work began, the gravel trail exceeded acceptable grades for accessibility, rendering it inaccessible for its entire length. The renovations added to last Saturday's celebration that included cake, music, games, and a live animal program along with opportunities to enjoy hands-on exhibits and the improved trail.

8/8/2012 -- In Alaska, Recovery Act funded project work supporting a world-class recreation and transportation network for visitors to the Chugach National Forest and Kenai Peninsula communities that began in 2011 is experiencing bridge erection delays related to the remote site's ability to accommodate larger-than-expected construction cranes. Through the Whistle Stop Project*, Recovery Act funded workers are building a 280-foot timber-truss pedestrian bridge over the Placer River located about 400 feet upriver from a railroad bridge. The pedestrian bridge is the key connector to the planned 35-mile-long Glacier Discovery Trail that will unite several backcountry stations. Contractors now expect to finish work by late September, before winter weather begins. The trail will add to existing business opportunities for outfitter/guides as well as the railroad while enhancing opportunities for people of all abilities to recreate in Alaska's great outdoors.
*The Whistle Stop Project is a long-term partnership effort between the Forest Service and Alaska Railroad Corporation that will eventually include several railroad whistle stops between the Portage Valley and Moose Pass along with a trail network inter-connecting all of the stops with cabins dispersed throughout.

8/7/2012 -- In Georgia, online publications funded in part by Forest Service Recovery Act dollars continue to support invasive species eradication and control efforts. Invaders such as kudzu, cogongrass, and tallowtree displace native vegetation by forming dense monocultural stands that destroy wildlife habitat and increase catastrophic wildfire risk. Through the Georgia Invasive Plants Outreach Program which was developed by the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia, landowners can access guidelines to help prevent invasive species' spread by choosing native or non-invasive plants and learning to recognize and report invasives. The Web site offering plant fact sheets, mini-flyers, and non-invasive planting guidelines is helping manage invasive species through education and outreach that also supports early detection and rapid response programs.

8/6/2012 -- In Oregon, efforts are in progress to award a Recovery Act funded helicopter logging contract covering just over 350 acres in the Horn Gap and Panther Peak areas on the steep western ridge of the Ashland Creek drainage. Contractor selection is expected to be finalized next week, allowing the work on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to start by early October. After logging is finished in mid-November, hand crews will cut and pile leftover slash and eventually burn the piles. In addition to improving forest health, the activity bringing jobs to the woods is expected to supply approximately 1.8 million board feet or 500 log loads to a local mill to further support the economy. The City of Ashland, the Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy and the Lomakatsi Restoration Project have been working together since 2004 on the 10-year, 7,600-acre Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project to reduce catastrophic wildfire threat in the watershed and help restore it to a more natural state.

8/3/2012 -- In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in south-central Alaska, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are supporting extensive wildland fire prevention education efforts and approximately 30 hazardous fuels reduction projects covering about 200 acres across the borough. Administered by the Alaska Division of Forestry and implemented by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, this project involves about 90 percent fire prevention education and 10 percent hazardous fuels reduction. Temporary crews and private contractors are conducting hazard fuels mitigation work in areas prioritized according to needs identified in community wildfire protection plans. Other temporary workers are conducting Firewise home assessments and associated public outreach. The inspections are helping identify trees that should be removed to protect property from approaching wildfires. Last winter these employees conducted fire prevention education programs at local schools. All project work is expected to be complete by the end of 2012.

8/2/2012 -- In Alaska, a timber sale record of decision (ROD) affirmed last week by Regional Forester Beth Pendleton will now allow ensuing logging activity to soon benefit from previously completed Recovery Act-funded road work. In 2009 Recovery Act workers made improvements to a Tongass National Forest System (NFS) road that provides primary access to Tonka Valley on the Lindenberg Peninsula of Kupreanof Island. Originally built as a logging road and not intended for sustained public use that continues to increase, this route accesses opportunities for recreation and local subsistence users in the community of Petersburg, directly across the Wrangell Narrows. Prior to the work that reduced maintenance costs and environmental impacts from sedimentation, NFS Road 6251 could no longer be maintained with a motor grader. The more than 2,000-acre timber sale area was chosen to take advantage of the nearby road system instead of developing new ones in other locations. Forest staff expects the first sale from this ROD to take place this fall.

8/1/2012 -- In Oregon this summer, ongoing Recovery Act funded hazardous fuels reduction work in the Ashland watershed has made it necessary to temporarily close or limit access to a few hiking trails in the interest of public safety. Since mid-July, a local contractor has been logging roughly 100 acres on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest land near the Horn Gap and No Candies trails. The 13-member crew will finish work there by mid-August in support of the 7,600-acre Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project's* forest health goals designed to reduce catastrophic wildland fire risk and improve wildlife habitat. This fall helicopter logging operations covering more than 1,000 acres on steep slopes will continue Recovery Act funded project work taking place on 3,000 acres through the fall of 2014. The ongoing effort is also boosting local economies through sought-after forest industry work, including supplying materials to local mills.
*The Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project is a multi-year partnership involving the US Forest Service, the City of Ashland, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, and The Nature Conservancy that guides where and how to thin trees and brush within the Ashland watershed.

7/31/2012 -- In Montana last week, Recovery Act funded work to apply chipseal to the west-side Hungry Horse Reservoir Road, also known as National Forest System Road 895, has contributed to traveler safety and outdoor recreation enjoyment on the Flathead National Forest. The project was part a larger effort to enhance 100 miles of road around the popular Hungry Horse Reservoir while reducing impacts to endangered and sensitive species and improving watershed health by decommissioning roads, treating noxious weeds, and improving stream crossings that blocked aquatic passage. In addition to construction jobs, the project brought indirect economic benefits through the large quantities of asphalt, aggregate, and other materials purchased from local suppliers and ongoing tourism-generated income to local businesses for lodging, travel supplies, and other services.

7/30/2012 -- The Superior National Forest in Minnesota is again using Forest Service Recovery Act funds to expand its partnership with Conservation Corps Minnesota for trail maintenance work. Now in its third year, the project has augmented the corps' hands-on environmental stewardship and service-learning opportunities for approximately 40 young people each field season while accomplishing significant upgrades on hundreds of trail miles. This summer crews are again clearing and trimming vegetation, repairing trail tread, and building rock cairns and drain features to improve outdoor recreation opportunities for forest visitors. One route benefitting from the crews' efforts is a premiere backpacking trail a national magazine included in its top-ten list. All project work will end by September 30.

7/27/2012 -- On the Kootenai National Forest in Montana, Recovery Act funded workers are finishing reforestation maintenance in previously logged areas or those disturbed by wildfires or other natural causes. The work activities, begun in late 2009, are taking place on nearly 1,500 acres located across four ranger districts near the communities of Eureka, Fortine, Libby, Noxon, Thompson Falls, and Troy. Work involves maintaining, securing, or removing protective tubes over young trees to reduce wildlife browsing damage. At the same time the tubes must be managed appropriately to avoid harm to the seedlings. The area's late spring and summer has delayed the project's anticipated end date until late September. In addition to seedling management, workers also helped restore nearly 400 wildfire-scarred acres on stands that the Forest had not been able to treat using traditional funding.

7/26/2012 -- In Alaska, a Forest Service Recovery Act funded village seed production project is helping rural communities gain a foothold in a much-needed state industry. Since March 2010, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources has been working through the Alaska Plant Materials Center (PMC) to initiate, develop, and begin seed production in communities around the state to support the ongoing native species restoration efforts of several federal and state agencies as well as mining and oil industries. Six rural communities are in varying stages of seed-production startup and have workers attending training, selecting production sites, and preparing and planting fields. For example, in Pedro Bay, a local workforce has shown great initiative by clearing 3.5 acres between fall 2011 and spring 2012, when planting activities began. Workers continue to plant with PMC stock. Seeds planted this spring are growing well, and the first seed harvest is planned for mid-summer 2013. PMC project managers will supervise and monitor all planting, production, harvest, and cleaning for several seasons to ensure the local producers are sufficiently trained with firmly established revegetation markets to benefit both ecosystems and local economies.

7/25/2012 -- The Forest Service is closing out grants and making final payments related to a nearly nine-million dollar Recovery Act ecosystem management project that has established or improved over 75,000 acres of longleaf pine* habitat on state and private land in five Southern states while creating and retaining hundreds of natural resource positions. Other project accomplishments since late 2009 include improved seed collection areas and increased nursery capacity to help ensure that millions of additional seedlings will be available to continue work through this multiple-partner undertaking. In addition, over the life of the project, education activities involved 50 training sessions reaching nearly 350 forestry professionals and over 2,200 private landowners along with the production and distribution of almost 100,000 publications. The efforts have substantially contributed to the March 2009 Range-wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine with the goal of collaboratively increasing longleaf pine acreage to eight million acres and improving 1.5 million acres of existing habitat over the next 15 years in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
*Longleaf pine forests that once covered a vast range from Texas to Virginia have been reduced to three percent of historical acreage due to conversion to other land uses and forest types. Longleaf pine forests are highly valued for their resistance to biological, storm, and wildfire damage as well as for their yield of superior wood products, biological diversity, and beauty.

7/24/2012 -- On the Kenai Peninsula on Alaska's southern coast, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are helping borough spruce bark beetle-mitigation program staff design and conduct several hazardous fuels treatment projects scattered across the borough. Treatment areas include projects recommended and prioritized in accordance with local community wildfire protection plans on both public and private lands within the wildland-urban interface. Contractors are removing hazard trees along approximately 70 miles of road corridors; reducing ground fuels on approximately 125 acres of state park lands; thinning approximately 1,000 acres of borough public land adjacent to communities; reducing grassy fuels in the wildland urban-interface on approximately 2,500 acres; and treating woody debris resulting from private land hazardous fuels removal. All project work is expected to be complete by the end of 2012.

7/23/2012 -- In Nevada, Forest Service Recovery Act funded workers are helping improve the ecosystem functions of riparian lands by removing non-native woody biomass and replanting cleared areas with native vegetation. Contractors are planning and implementing the project in several Clark County locations, focusing primarily on tamarisk, also known as salt cedar, which out-competes native species, salinizes soils, and monopolizes moisture sources, thus degrading wildlife habitat while increasing wildland fire intensity and frequency. The ongoing work involves eradicating invasives and establishing and maintaining native plants on hundreds of acres. The Nevada Department of Agriculture is administering the grant that ends in 2013.

7/20/2012 -- Lincoln and Sanders counties in Montana have sustained the state’s highest unemployment rates for the past several years. There Recovery Act funded workers are conducting thinning, pruning, and weeding activities to help reduce tree stand density and improve forest health and resilience to insects and disease and catastrophic wildland fire on nearly 7,000 acres. The treatment acres are located across the Kootenai National Forest involving six local communities, including Eureka, Fortine, Libby, Noxon, Thompson Falls, and Troy. Awarded late in 2009, the majority of the contracts have been completed with all remaining work scheduled to end this summer.

7/19/2012 -- In Alaska, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are supporting catastrophic wildfire protection efforts, including Firewise home inspections, fire education outreach, and hazardous fuels reduction activities on private land within the City of Anchorage. The Alaska State Division of Forestry is administering the grant that the Anchorage Fire Department is implementing within the municipality to help residents make their homes more defensible in case of wildfire. Temporary workers are supporting the project that includes removal of large dead trees and brush from private lands, with the expectation that about 75 acres will be treated by the end of 2012. In addition to creating jobs, the work is helping protect hundreds of homes in the Anchorage bowl from potential fires that could spread from Chugach State Park, where a spruce bark-beetle infestation has killed acres of trees.

7/18/2012 -- Last month in Emmett, Idaho, a new sawmill funded in part by Forest Service Recovery Act funds that had been closed for about a year re-opened. During the closure, Emerald Wood Products owner Dick Vinson and his partners resolved processing efficiency issues that brought about the shut-down after the mill had been open for nearly a year. The retooling efforts are helping the plant reach acceptable production levels to support forest health improvement in the timber-rich area. Local officials and a former Congressman are among those who continue to view the endeavor as a viable opportunity to provide permanent mill jobs and additional support jobs in an area where unemployment is 11 percent or higher. In 2009, a $4 million Recovery Act grant augmented the mill’s establishment where the owner had already invested several million. Project construction and start-up work also produced several local jobs. 

7/17/2012 -- In Alabama, Recovery Act funded work completed earlier this year is ensuring safer travel routes for Bankhead and Talladega national forest visitors and local residents while improving aquatic habitat in streams and rivers. Local contractors replaced the Pine Glen Bridge near Helflin on the Talladega National Forest and the Brushy Creek Bridge near Double Springs on the Bankhead National Forest. Originally built in the 1930s, the Brushy Creek Bridge’s thick concrete slab had settled and caused breakage at the expansion joints. During storms, large woody debris would cover the bridge, involving costly maintenance to keep the bridge passable. The Pine Glen Bridge built in the 1940s was also prone to woody debris jams after flooding, and its width, load-bearing capacity, and roadway curvature radius were also inadequate for current traffic volumes. The work was part of a larger National Forests in Alabama Recovery Act project involving clean-up and maintenance, culvert replacement, and upgrades to various trail and road bridges, all designed to reduce the deferred maintenance backlog.

7/16/2012 – In Ohio, the Wayne National Forest and the New Straitsville History Group celebrated completion of Recovery Act funded abandoned mine remediation work that significantly advanced a 15-year-long effort to restore the 75,000-acre Monday Creek watershed in Perry County. The June 30 event included dedication of an Ohio Historical Society marker to commemorate the phenomenal story of a mine fire that striking miners set in 1884 that is still burning underground today. Underground mining activities in the late-1800s and strip mining in the mid-1900s had caused an acid mine cesspool in the area. Last year, contractors finished opening blocked drainages and built a three-acre pond with appropriate drainage to enhance a small wetland below the pond and a prairie meadow on the site’s upper slope. Workers also planted a mix of approximately 1,300 native species to promote aquatic and wildlife habitat recovery. While all Upstream Rock Run Project Recovery Act funds have been expended, the forest is continuing to work with partners to further improve the watershed’s ecosystem health.

7/13/2012 -- According to news reports, the State of Alabama plans to seek solutions other than full payment of a $5.1 million invoice from the Forest Service resulting from decisions that Recovery Act grants were not properly accounted for as required by regulations launched in 2004. An Office of Inspector General interim report in November 2011 said the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) should repay $14.4 million; a follow-up audit in January allowed $9.3 million of the original $14.4 million. In late April of this year, AFC provided a response designed to demonstrate that the amount still in question should be considered allowable. Since 2009 AFC has accomplished extensive Recovery Act funded work to control invasive cogongrass, restore native longleaf pine habitat, and reduce catastrophic wildfire risk while providing jobs for forest industry workers.

7/12/2012 -- On hillside areas above Anchorage, Alaska, Forest Service Recovery Act funded hazardous fuels reduction work is underway to help protect densely populated adjacent areas from catastrophic wildland fire. The project is being conducted in cooperation with the Anchorage Fire Department, Alaska State Parks, and the Alaska Division of Forestry. Because of high recreational use in the vicinity, approximately 20 seasonal workers are thinning dense stands of beetle-killed spruce to mitigate danger from human-caused fire starts which are more likely. Workers are building a fuel break between the park and the City of Anchorage to protect homes, a natural gas pipeline running through the park, and natural resources. Local residents are also benefitting from the firewood made available from the project. With rising home heating fuel costs, firewood is in high demand. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

7/11/2012 -- Last week Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) released a report showing that during fiscal years 2010 and 2011 more than 40 percent of all central Oregon forest health projects went to firms that were using foreign workers despite area high unemployment. Last year, a Department of Labor investigation found that Recovery Act funds were awarded to Oregon-based contractors who underbid competition by using foreign laborers under legal loopholes in the H-2B visa program allowing employers to temporarily hire foreign workers if they can establish that no Americans are qualified or available for the work. While reforms to the program that gave hundreds of foreign workers opportunities to work on Oregon Recovery Act hazardous fuels reduction projects are now in effect, in March Sen. Merkley and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced the American Jobs in American Forests Act that would further amend the H-2B process to ensure that contractors are held to even tougher standards.

7/10/2012 -- In Montana, on the Bitterroot National Forest, the popular Three Frogs Campground, site of recent Recovery Act funded renovations, is temporarily closed in the interest of public safety while local a contractor conducts hazardous fuels reduction work to remove beetle-killed trees in the Lake Como area. The Bitterroot National Forest campground re-opened last August following Recovery Act work to revamp existing camping sites with larger pull-ins, designated tent sites, and new picnic tables and fire pits while building a brand new loop that nearly doubled the campground's size to support area visitor numbers that have doubled in the last five years. The campground will be closed for several more weeks this season, but the finished result will ensure enhanced visitor safety while helping strengthen the remaining trees against future beetle attacks.

7/9/2012 -- In Idaho, on the Salmon-Challis National Forest, contractors continue to make progress on three Recovery Act funded bridge replacements on the heavily-traveled Salmon River Road. The Federal Highway Administration is overseeing work to replace 1950s-era structures crossing Cove, Little Pine, and Pine creeks on the road that supports high volumes of recreational, residential, and commercial traffic. Earlier this summer workers placed girders in anticipation of pouring concrete to complete the bridges' deck portions as summer progresses. In addition to removing the outdated bridges as part of the project, workers are also reconditioning roadways and placing aggregate to increase public safety and provide a reliable evacuation route during wildland fire events that can frequently occur in this area. 

7/5/2012 -- In Colorado, a local contractor is nearly finished with a Recovery Act funded project to relocate a campground access road intersection and build a new campground loop and associated host sites on the east side of the Green Mountain Reservoir. Work began last August to address transportation safety issues and increase visitor enjoyment while reducing shoreline resource damage. On June 22, workers finished the intersection reconstruction activities. Work to build a new 12-site camping loop and improved campground host locations at Cow Creek South Campground on the White River National Forest is nearly finished, and the campground is open for the season. The contractor intends to finish the project after the summer camping season ends in early September. Located on the shores of the reservoir approximately 20 miles north of Silverthorne, the campground is a popular spot for boating, canoeing, fishing, water skiing, and windsurfing, and the upgrades will enhance the local tourism economy.

7/3/2012 -- In California, the newly renovated Gerle Creek Campground is helping the Eldorado National Forest ensure enhanced recreation opportunities are available for people of all abilities. Recovery Act funded work at the popular campground finished last fall involved a complete overhaul, including rebuilding camping units, installing furnishings, and rehabilitating campground surfaces, including the road, spurs, and pathways. Contractors also built new restroom facilities and a water system, including piping, shut-off valves, faucets, and connections to an existing well and storage tank to add to the public's safety and enjoyment. In addition to reducing the forest's deferred maintenance backlog and providing numerous work opportunities, the completed project will continue to enhance local tourism economies for years to come. 

7/2/2012 -- In northern California this summer, Recovery Act funded Youth Conservation Corps crews are using hand tools to remove invasive species such as blackberry, poison oak, Scotch broom, and thistles from approximately 13 miles of trail in the Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area. The trail rehabilitation activities taking place in the final season of a three-year partnership between Shasta College and the Shasta-Trinity National Forest are designed to accomplish critical conservation work on public lands and provide employment for young adults aged 15 to 18 years. In additional to gaining valuable job experience, the youth are receiving 40 hours of environmental awareness training during the eight-week program that will end in early August.

6/29/2012 -- Since 1991, the Public Lands Interpretive Association, doing business as Southwest Recreation, has operated campgrounds under a special use permit on the Kaibab National Forest's Williams Ranger District near Williams, Arizona. This weekend, the group will offer programs at forest campgrounds where Recovery Act funded upgrades have helped ensure improved accessibility for people of all abilities while enhancing visitors' outdoor recreation experiences. In 2010, Recovery Act funded workers replaced deteriorating restroom facilities at White Horse Lake Campground and built a new facility at Kaibab Lake Campground.

6/28/2012 -- In northern California this week, Klamath National Forest employees and contract pilots are moving into the newly-completed Recovery Act-funded Scott Valley helibase located at the Scott Valley municipal airport, a portion of which the Forest Service leases from Siskiyou County. Beginning in late 2010, local construction workers were among those hired to remove three sub-standard trailers and demolish a garage before replacing them with a 2,000-square-foot nine-person barracks; a 3,700-square-foot office facility and control center; and an 1,800-square-foot garage/warehouse. The new energy-efficient structures are helping reduce the Forest Service's environmental footprint while supporting critical wildland fire suppression activities for the region, as this facility and associated rappelling crew are one of only two in the state of California.

6/27/2012 -- In California, employees have begun moving into the Recovery Act-funded Monterey Ranger District office under construction since last spring. The new 8,000-square-foot office in King City replaces the existing wood frame office building originally built in 1937 as well as several modular additions built in the 1970s and a trailer used as an office. In August, the Los Padres National Forest is planning open houses for both the King City facility as well as the new 8,000-square-foot Mount Pinos Ranger District office based outside of Frazier Park that employees began occupying in May. Designed with many features intended to save energy and maintenance costs, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified offices also demonstrate a commitment to local community wellbeing by maintaining the agency's presence in remote locations. Additionally, the work has benefitted the construction industry and local economies.

6/26/2012 -- In Idaho, the Clearwater National Forest continues to work with the Nez Perce Tribe to address Nez Perce National Historic Trail (NPNHT) maintenance needs using Recovery Act funds. The work underway seasonally since 2010 is affording young tribal members opportunities to learn critical trail maintenance and bridge building skills, as well as training in first aid, defensive driving, and ATV and chainsaw operation. This season crews will continue to repair sections of the Weitas puncheon boardwalk bridge across Weitas Meadows. Three ten-foot sections of the 390-foot structure remain to be rebuilt to create a wider access and hand rails to make this portion of the trail more accessible and horse friendly. The work planned for completion this field season will help maintain this national landmark created in 1986 as part of the National Trails System Act, and forest visitors will benefit from improved recreation experiences.

6/25/2012 -- In Oregon, ongoing Forest Service Recovery Act funded hazardous fuels reduction work in the Ashland watershed continues to receive community support and benefit forest industry training efforts. The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, an Ashland-based environmental group, and the Ashland Forest Resiliency implementation review team monitoring a 100-acre commercial thinning project that began in mid-June near the city of Ashland recently voiced approval of the efforts to thin small-diameter trees while leaving valuable old growth. Since mid-2010, Recovery Act-funded crews have been working in the watershed to reduce catastrophic wildland fire risk on about 3,000 acres through fall 2014. Lomakatsi Restoration Project that is overseeing the current project has employed Klamath tribal members along Northwest Youth Corps members from Eugene and Jefferson Youth Conservation Corps members out of Grants Pass to provide worker development and training.

6/22/2012 -- In Washington State in early July, a special volunteer and community engagement weekend is planned at the newly purposed Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center at Coldwater. The Forest Service, National Forest Foundation, Mount St. Helens Institute, and Cowlitz County Economic Development Council are inviting volunteers to a Friends of the Forest® Day weekend event on July 7-8. Extensive Recovery Act-funded work to reduce the maintenance backlog has made such events possible. In 2010 Recovery Act-funded workers replaced the visitor center's leaking windows and repaired the roof to protect the infrastructure. The building also serves as a remote mechanical operations hub for Johnston Ridge Observatory, which is inaccessible during the winter months. In mid-May the Gifford Pinchot National Forest reopened the center as a setting for new and expanded research, educational, and community programs. It had been closed to visitors since 2007.

6/21/2012 -- On July 7 in Wyoming, the National Fire Protection Association's Firewise* Communities program will recognize Union Pass Firewise's decade of participation in the national program, which is a voluntary initiative to protect residents, property, and natural resources from wildfires. Forest Service Recovery Act-funded work to address priorities established in the Fremont County Community Wildfire Protection Plan is counted among efforts to protect over 300 structures near Dubois on private lands adjacent to and within the Shoshone National Forest. In 2010, Recovery Act-funded workers implemented fuel breaks and fuel treatments on 57 private properties involving 250 acres in at-risk communities. Funds also supported landowner education concerning the need to implement fuel treatments and structural modifications to lessen potential losses during wildfires.
*Firewise is a program of the National Fire Protection Association and co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters.

6/18/2012 -- In Colorado, a Forest Service Recovery Act grant that helped a sawmill to reopen fulltime has meant new and retained forest industry jobs while supporting hazardous fuel reduction activities vital to public safety in Del Norte and Rio Grande counties. In late 2009 the Colorado State Forest Service issued a $632,000 sub-grant to Rocky Mountain Timber Products, Inc. of Del Norte to support increased production. By October 2011 the company had gone from a two-person operation to one employing 11 that in turn allowed the business to double its logging capacity on nearby spruce beetle-killed acres, creating new jobs in that enterprise. Company owners report community members are supportive of the timber sale work that is reducing catastrophic wildland fire risk. The corporation also now retains two subcontractors to haul timber, providing an additional boost to the local economy.

6/15/2012 -- In New Mexico, Forest Service Recovery Act funds supporting the Mescalero Apache Tribe's efforts to retool its sawmill for small-log processing while improving operational efficiency continue to benefit the tribe and local economy. The mill that was closed in December 2008 because of declining lumber markets combined with process inefficiencies and a lack of by-product markets now operates at full capacity on one shift and employs about 60 people. In May, workers processed 1.2 MMBF (million board feet) of timber and made a profit. Managers expect to be able to increase the output to 1.4 MMBF. In light of the national housing construction downturn, mill workers are generating products for non-traditional markets, including railroad ties, bridge supports, pallet stock, and timbers for the oil- and gas-field industry. The next phase of the project is to install a bio-heating facility to utilize the sawdust and mill waste for which the tribe has completed a feasibility study and is moving forward with necessary approvals.

6/13/2012 -- In Nevada, Recovery Act funded workers continue to conduct Arrowcreek and Skinner Complex* fire recovery activities on nonfederal lands within the Truckee River watershed vital to the Reno metropolitan area. Thus far, workers have accomplished about half of the planned ecosystem renewal efforts that include applying defensible space principles near developments; mapping and eradicating noxious and invasive weeds that are competing with native plants; planting and reseeding native shrubs and trees for wildlife habitat improvement; and conducting water quality improvement and soil erosion control measures while reducing the risk of repeat catastrophic wildfire in the region. The restoration work scheduled to be finished by next year has been prioritized by planting north slopes and riparian corridors first to increase water quality and wildlife habitat while taking advantage of soil moisture.
*The Arrowcreek Fire of 2000 burned through 2,788 acres of land of which 1,898 acres of nonfederal lands adjacent to forested lands were left with a minimum of 10 percent canopy cover. In 2008, the Skinner Complex Fire (also known as the East Lake Fire) affected 960 acres of land of which 384 acres were on nonfederal lands adjacent to forested lands, also leaving a minimum of 10 percent canopy cover.

6/12/2012 -- In Arizona, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, using Recovery Act funds, continues to work with the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) and other local entities to reduce catastrophic wildland fire risk on thousands of acres. Thinning activities underway since early 2010, including laying out and preparing task orders prior to hazardous fuels reduction work, have served as mentoring opportunities for Forest Service staff to empower WMAT members to successfully bid on future project work. This season workers are harvesting timber in the Wallow Fire area while the burned trees still offer market value. The Forest expects work to continue into fiscal year 2014, with plans to treat approximately 4,800 acres in total. In addition to providing employment and forest industry training opportunities, the work is supporting forest and watershed health while protecting communities from severe wildfire risk.

6/11/2012 -- In mid-May, partners in northern California were recognized for their outstanding conservation and forest stewardship efforts involving Forest Service Recovery Act funded sudden oak death-related research and monitoring. The Redwood Valley Collaborative (RVC) earned the USDA Two Chiefs' Partnership Award* for its work to reduce sudden oak death (SOD) disease threat on private lands and mitigate the risk of infection on adjacent high-value areas, including Redwood National and State parks. SOD has killed over five million trees in northern California over the past decade. Since 2011, RVC, whose affiliations include federal, state, tribal and private partners, has treated more than 375 SOD-infested acres in the Redwood Valley in Humboldt County.
*The Two Chiefs' Partnership Award is an annual national award recognizing people and teams that work collaboratively to support conservation and forest stewardship. Award winners are selected by the Chiefs of the USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

6/8/2012 -- On June 6 in California, fire destroyed an unoccupied structure cluster that the newly completed Recovery Act funded Angeles National Forest Supervisor's Office had recently replaced. In early May, employees had moved into the new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building in Arcadia that succeeded the former substandard building comprised of several modular units. The fire's cause has not been determined, but no injuries were reported. The new building located near the fire was not damaged, but the office is temporarily closed in the wake of the incident.

6/7/2012 -- In Montana on the Kootenai National Forest, a late spring has delayed Recovery Act funded work to remove three barriers to westslope cutthroat trout migration in the Clark Fork River Basin. A local contractor had planned to begin work this month to: (1) remove and dispose of one large culvert; (2) remove a structure that previous flooding had damaged and build a drivable ford; (3) and replace one large culvert with a large bottomless arch that will allow passage for fish and other aquatic organisms. Though late spring run-off may cause activities to begin as late as August, the project should still be finished before the end of the field season. Part of a larger effort to repair infrastructure, protect watersheds, and promote forest fisheries, the undertaking designed to improve once abundant westslope cutthroat trout populations first described by Lewis and Clark will also enhance outdoor recreation opportunities for anglers.

6/6/2012 -- In Alabama, the final spraying season of Forest Service Recovery Act funded efforts to control invasive cogongrass is well underway. In April, contractors hired through the Alabama Cogongrass Control Center (ACCC) began treatments in the eastern part of the state and in Baldwin County. In early May the ACCC received official notification that the cogongrass grant would continue for another four months, allowing the center to meet many of its goals, including applying herbicide on all of its selected treatment sites. Thus far, numerous spray crews have finished work in ten counties and are now conducting treatments in another nine counties, with efforts planned in 15 more before the project ends in late August. In 2009 the Alabama Forestry Commission instituted the ACCC to suppress the invasive plant species through specific strategies in targeted areas while allowing for job creation and retention. The ACCC has been employing multi-year herbicide application, which has been identified as the most effective approach to controlling and eradicating this weed that has spread to epidemic proportions in parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Unchecked, cogongrass will dominate the southern landscape, turning a dynamic and diverse ecosystem into a monoculture unsuitable and unproductive for multiple use objectives such as recreation, wildlife habitat, hay and sod production, timber, and biodiversity conservation.

6/5/2012 -- In Nevada, Forest Service Recovery Act funded ecosystem restoration activities involving a major wildlife migration corridor have been underway seasonally on nearly 850 acres of non-federal lands burned in the 2008 Red Rock Fire. Since 2010, workers have been mapping invasive weeds and applying appropriate herbicide treatments to eradicate undesirable plant life, reseeding and hydro-mulching for erosion control, installing and repairing fence, rebuilding watershed features, and providing defensible space for nearby development. The work taking place adjacent to lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management Carson District is also reducing the risk of repeat catastrophic wildland fire. The effort scheduled for completion after the 2013 field season has had the support of community partners such as the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the Nevada Mule Deer Foundation.

6/4/2012 -- In Colorado, the effort to designate Chimney Rock Archaeological Area a national monument is gaining momentum. Designated an Archaeological Area and National Historic Site in 1970, Chimney Rock lies on 4,100 acres of San Juan National Forest land surrounded by the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. The site was home to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians 1,000 years ago and is of great spiritual significance to them. In mid-May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Chimney Rock National Monument Establishment Act that has moved on to the Senate. Recovery Act-funded work finished in 2011 at the site has helped preserve cultural resources and improve facilities to augment the local economy through increased tourism. Several media outlets have written in favor of H.R 2621, which Representative Scott Tipton first introduced last July. Supporters believe the move would benefit the economically hard-pressed Four Corners area.

6/1/2012 -- This week in Massachusetts, the City of Worcester completed its final Forest Service Recovery Act funded tree planting season in support of reforestation efforts to mitigate the effects of a multi-year Asian longhorned beetle epidemic. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)-administered grant has supported tree removal and replacement along with maintenance of newly planted trees. In 2010, DCR began replanting trees to replace the nearly 30,000 that have been cut down and removed from Worcester and surrounding towns to mitigate the beetle's effects since the epidemic began in 2008. Crews planted over 13,500 trees in Worcester County that will contribute to energy conservation and improved water and air quality and community aesthetics.

5/31/2012 -- In Oregon, Forest Service Recovery Act funds will support a 100-acre commercial thinning project set to begin in mid-June near the city of Ashland. A 600-acre helicopter logging project is expected to open for bids soon, with work to be completed following the summer field season when wildfire risk is especially high. The efforts are part of Recovery Act-funded project work taking place on 3,000 acres through the fall of 2014 in the Ashland watershed using private contractors and workers from the non-profit Lomakatsi Restoration Project, an Ashland-based ecological restoration organization. Since mid-2010, crews have been working in the watershed to thin small-diameter trees and brush, thus reducing catastrophic wildland fire risk. In addition to improving forest health, the ongoing effort is boosting local economies through sought-after forest industry work.

5/30/2012 -- In Baltimore, contract bid solicitation will begin in early June for a project to create an urban ecology center at Druid Hill Park using Forest Service Recovery Act funds as well as local, state, and other federal government monies and nonprofit contributions. Baltimore's Department of Recreation and Parks has entered into an agreement with the Parks & People Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to enhancing environmental health and neighborhood quality of life, to renovate the park's historic Superintendent's Mansion. The project will add a green annex that will serve as the foundation's offices and teaching center, offering programming, training and facilities for residents, students, educators, scientists and park supporters to facilitate sustainable relationships between urban dwellers and their environment. Workers will also restore the park landscape by removing invasive vegetation, planting native species to enhance wildlife habitat and renovating walkways to improve park access. Work scheduled to begin in September should be finished within a year.

5/29/2012 -- On May 24, the University of Maine at Fort Kent hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate its new Forest Service Recovery Act funded biomass facility. At the event several community and government leaders shared remarks pointing to the project's long-term benefits to the forest industry, forest health, and sustainable operations. The plant is projected to save the university $1 million over the next ten years while reducing its dependence on foreign oil The university selected Daigle Oil Company, a local business, to supply the approximately 120 tons of wood pellets needed to operate the biomass unit each winter. The project is one of 22 fossil-to-renewable fuel conversions made possible statewide through an $11.4 million Forest Service Recovery Act grant to the State of Maine, which used the grant to stand up its Fuels for Public Buildings sub-grant program. Grantees contributed another $20 million in cost-share to further augment manufacturing and construction jobs.

5/24/2012 -- In Maine, all but five of the 22 USDA Forest Service Recovery Act-funded public building heating system conversions are finished and contributing to a stronger state forest products industry while reducing heating oil burned annually in Maine by hundreds of thousands of gallons. Recovery Act-funded contractors are still working to convert heating systems from fossil fuel to biomass or wood burning systems in two schools, a community college, and two medical facilities and expect to finish by the end of December. Six southern Missouri schools that transitioned from burning fossil fuels to renewable woody biomass are also among the approximately $88 million in Recovery Act projects contributing to green energy development in areas with projected long-term and sustainable biomass supplies. While renewable energy experts have touted the Recovery Act as an initiative that breathed life into the nation's renewable energy program, bringing local jobs and supporting forest health, developers speculate that ongoing Congressional support is needed if the momentum is to continue.

5/23/2012 -- Recovery Act-funded abandoned mine remediation work finished last year significantly advanced a 15-year-long effort to restore the 75,000-acre Monday Creek watershed on the Wayne National Forest in Ohio. In late 2011, Recovery Act-funded workers completed reclamation construction on the Upstream Rock Run Project located in Perry County, where underground mining activities in the late-1800s and strip mining in the mid-1900s had caused an acid mine cesspool. Contractors designed and performed work to open blocked drainages in addition to building a three-acre pond with appropriate drainage to enhance a small wetland below it and a prairie meadow on the site's upper slope. Workers also promoted wildlife habitat recovery by planting a mix of approximately 1,300 native species. While all Recovery Act funds have been expended for the project, the Forest is continuing to work with partners to further rehabilitate the area. In April, in partnership with the American Chestnut Foundation and the Northern Research Station, volunteers planted 750 American Chestnut trees to reestablish those lost to blight in the early 1900s. In June, the Forest and partners will place benches and interpretive signs around the site to foster an appreciation for wildlife, native plants, and the local area's rich cultural history. In the future, the Forest plans to build vernal pools for amphibian habitat in small depressions on the side drainages and a fully accessible trail around the pond.

5/22/2012 -- In Colorado, the San Juan National Forest recently announced that the San Juan Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) has earned the U.S. Forest Service 2011 Award for Outstanding Partner against Invasive Species, a national award that recognizes an agency partner that demonstrates outstanding collaboration and achievements related to managing noxious weeds at the national, regional, or community level. In 2010 the San Juan RC&D provided technical training and project oversight to counties that used Forest Service Recovery Act funds to inventory and treat noxious weeds in hazardous fuel reduction areas. The work also created local jobs and helped four Colorado weed control districts upgrade equipment and skills.

5/21/2012 -- In Oregon on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Recovery Act and other funds are supporting a nearly 700-acre hazardous fuels reduction project that includes prescribed burning and thinning meant to help alleviate the risk of high-intensity, stand-replacing fires. Last week Sled Springs Rappel Base crew members and others burned several acres in steep terrain to reduce encroaching grand and white fir that crowd out more fire-resistant species such as ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and western larch. The burn was also designed to improve deer and elk browse by removing dead, woody parts of shrubs while allowing new growth to come back next year. Wallowa Resources, a local nonprofit founded in 1996 focused on the stewardship of Wallowa County's land and community, is conducting thinning activities.

5/18/2012 -- While Recovery Act funded on-site clean-up work has been finished at the abandoned Salt Chuck Mine located on the Tongass National Forest and on adjacent State of Alaska tidelands since last fall, the benefits continue, as do plans to further improve the site. Located on Prince of Wales Island, the operation produced copper, palladium, gold, and silver from around 1905 to 1941 that left behind hazardous substances including arsenic, copper, lead, mercury, selenium, and vanadium in mine tailings and soil. In spring 2010, the mine site was added to the Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List, making it eligible for long-term cleanup federal funds while the EPA seeks to recover costs from responsible parties. Recovery Act funded workers removed 8,400 tons of unsafe debris and hazardous substances from the mill area portion of the site from in 2011. Reducing human and ecological exposure to heavy metal and organic contaminates is improving area recreation as well as commercial and subsistence (living from the lands and streams) opportunities. Additional indirect jobs will result from long-term site monitoring and support industries. This spring the Forest received a detailed removal action report from the contractor. The Forest Service continues to work with the EPA and other agencies and stakeholders to ascertain the risk of remaining contamination within the site and whether further cleanup is needed. Non-Recovery Act funded operations and maintenance work will begin this month and continue into 2013.

5/16/2012 -- In Nevada, Forest Service Recovery Act funded workers have been conducting ecosystem restoration activities on 760 acres of non-federal lands burned in the 2007 Hawken Fire near Reno. In 2010 and 2011, Alum Creek stream restoration work included installing stream bank stabilization materials and replanting native plants and shrubs. Workers have also been clearing defensible space near adjacent homes while treating burned areas for weed control and replanting trees. Spot treatments, seeding, plant monitoring, and tree and willow maintenance are scheduled to be accomplished this field season. In addition to providing work for local contractors, the project is helping to reduce future catastrophic wildfire risk; improve recreational access and crucial winter habitat for mule deer; and protect important watersheds. All project work should be finished by the end of 2012. 

5/15/2012 -- Recovery Act funded work at Chimney Rock Archaeological Area in southwest Colorado has helped preserve cultural resources, improve facilities, and enhance visitors' experiences in support of a proposal to designate the area as a national monument. Designated an Archaeological Area and National Historic Site in 1970, Chimney Rock lies on 4,100 acres of San Juan National Forest land surrounded by the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. The site was home to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians 1,000 years ago and is of great spiritual significance to these tribes. Last week Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Scott Tipton joined USDA Undersecretary Harris Sherman in Pagosa Springs for a listening session on the topic. Recovery Act funded work finished last year included installation of moisture monitors in prehistoric walls to help archaeologists evaluate the efficiency of past stabilization efforts and to identify and address future stabilization problems before damage occurs. Contractors and partners also built a concrete cap on crumbling masonry walls around the upper parking lot to deflect water and removed a fire lookout tower that detracted from the unique archaeological setting of the world-class ancestral Puebloan site. In addition, workers installed interpretive signs at the lower visitor parking lot offering information on the lookout tower and the history of fire suppression. Supporters of the national monument designation believe the title would augment the economy through increased tourism.

5/14/2012 -- On the Los Padres National Forest in California, the Recovery Act funded Mount Pinos Ranger District Office under construction since last spring will undergo final inspection next week, and employees expect to begin moving into the building the week of May 21. The new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified structure just outside of Frazier Park replaces three 1940s-era offices and several modular units. The completed building will contribute to Forest Service sustainable operations efforts while improving employees' working conditions and demonstrating a commitment to local community wellbeing by maintaining the agency's presence in remote locations. A ribbon cutting/open house is being planned.

5/11/2012 -- Next week in Washington State, the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center that overlooks Coldwater Lake within the Mount St. Helens National Monument will reopen after being closed since 2007. Extensive Recovery Act funded work to reduce the maintenance backlog contributed to plans to repurpose the building as the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center. On May 18, the national volcanic monument will mark the 32nd anniversary of the devastating 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. In 2010 Recovery Act-funded workers replaced the visitor center's leaking windows and repaired the roof to protect the infrastructure that also serves as a remote mechanical operations hub for Johnston Ridge Observatory, which is inaccessible during the winter months. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest has recently been using the facility for training sessions. 

5/10/2012 -- In Colorado, Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) crews will soon resume seasonal Recovery Act funded trail maintenance work on the San Juan National Forest. To enhance public safety and further support the tourism industry in the Four Corners area, crew members this season expect to accomplish tread and drainage improvements, stabilization, cribbing, clearing, brushing, and signing on over 40 miles of trail. The San Juan's 1,800-mile trail system includes major segments of the Continental Divide and Colorado trails which contribute to the forest's average of 1.7 million annual visitor days. A long-time partner in helping the San Juan with trail maintenance and improvements, SCC is also providing training for youths in trail construction, maintenance, and installation of a variety of drainage features as well as leadership skill training for crew leaders.

5/9/2012 -- In Puerto Rico, El Yunque National Forest visitors continue to benefit from Recovery Act funded work to rehabilitate two trails leading to scenic La Mina Falls, a popular site for island visitors. About a year ago local contractors finished repaving the heavily used La Mina and Big Creek trails and repaired some drainage issues. Workers also repaired handrails and bridges along the two miles of trail. The completed work provided meaningful jobs and significantly reduced deferred maintenance while enhancing safety for the 1.2 million people who visit the Forest annually. Travel writers are touting the area as one designed to support continuing tourism growth to benefit the island's economy.

5/8/2012 -- In Hawaii, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are helping maintain an integrated pest management program against invasive plants on non-federal lands associated with forested ecosystems. Grant administrator, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, distributed funds to the Division of Forestry and Wildlife and watershed partnerships and Invasive Species committees on the major islands to support prevention practices, control efforts, surveys, and monitoring as well as public education. The work that will be ending by late October has thus far allowed for the treatment of over 2,000 acres and has been instrumental in maintaining many field worker positions that would have been eliminated during the recent economic downturn.

5/4/2012 -- In California, employees at the Angeles National Forest Supervisor's Office recently moved into the newly completed Recovery Act funded building. Since fall 2010 a California contractor has been overseeing the multi-million dollar project involving many local workers. Replacement of the former substandard building comprised of several modular units has created an efficient space for approximately 100 office staff and public interaction while reducing the office carbon footprint through better insulation, natural lighting, and ventilation to achieve at least a silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating. The project includes an atrium and a training center available to local, county, and federal fire personnel.

5/3/2012 -- At the Cradle of Forestry on the National Forests in North Carolina, Recovery Act funded trail restoration work which was finished last summer will benefit visitors for years to come, including those who plan to attend International Migratory Bird Day festivities on May 12. Started in 1993, International Migratory Bird Day is an educational program that highlights and celebrates bird migration, an important and spectacular event in the Americas. Almost 350 bird species journey from non-breeding grounds in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean to nesting habitats in North America while resting and feeding along the way. The Forest Service is an International Migratory Bird Day sponsor. Family birding walks scheduled for much of the day will take place along paved trails that Recovery Act-funded workers re-graded and paved while also constructing resting places and improving drainage and trail gradient where possible to make trails accessible for people of all abilities. Visitors will also appreciate indoor activities scheduled within buildings where roof repairs took place last year.

5/2/2012 -- In Washington state, recent county commissioner support of continued Forest Service management of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument occurred, in part, because of Recovery Act-funded improvements. Commissioners in two of the three counties surrounding Mount St. Helens have passed a resolution supporting continued Forest Service management over converting the monument to National Park status. The third county will address the resolution in the near future. The Forest Service used $4 million in Recovery Act funds to rehabilitate hiking trails; create and upgrade interpretive exhibits at the Johnson Observatory; and replace windows at the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center while revamping other recreational facilities to protect valuable infrastructure and further support the tourism economy.

5/1/2012 -- In Montana, a U.S. District Court judge recently lifted an injunction on a hazardous fuels reduction project funded in part with Recovery Act money. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies had filed a lawsuit against the Kootenai National Forest Little Beaver Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project over concerns that a revised assessment had contradictions in the administrative record regarding grizzly bear presence in the project area. The project that includes commercially thinning nearly 800 acres along with prescribed burning on about 700 acres will now begin as soon as ground conditions permit. In addition to supporting local employment opportunities, the project will contribute to improved forest health in supporting native species diversity and increasing stand resilience to insects and disease.

4/30/2012 -- This summer on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest, Recovery Act-funded workers helping address the mountain pine beetle epidemic calling for hazardous fuels reduction efforts throughout north central Colorado will finish the small amount of work remaining under three of the four task orders issued under the Front Range Long-term Stewardship contract. In late summer 2010 and early 2011, local contractors began work on the Gold, Miller, Stringtown, and West Beaver task orders involving approximately 1,800 acres to help reduce wildland fire risk to communities. The West Beaver task order was finished late last summer. This project, designed to achieve objectives of the Front Range Roundtable and Northern Front Range Mountain Pine Beetle Working Group, is enhancing public and firefighter safety and increasing stand resistance to beetle attacks while supporting forest industry jobs.

4/27/2012 -- In mid-April, the recently restored Timberline Lodge on the Mt. Hood National Forest released a smartphone application that offers a historical tour of the lodge in honor of its 75th anniversary. Created in the 1930s during the Great Depression as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration, now over two million visitors annually are benefiting from the $4.2 million in Recovery Act funded improvements to this National Historic Landmark. The massive restoration started in January of 2010 and was finished late last summer. Work activities included asphalt overlays on parking lots; exterior painting; lodge window replacement; day lodge exterior door replacement and re-flooring; a chimney rebuild; new fire alarm systems; remodeled accessible restrooms; and more. Besides creating numerous jobs for contractors during the economic downturn, the restored facilities are enhancing Oregon's tourism industry while preserving a treasured landmark. 

4/26/2012 -- In Nevada, Forest Service Recovery Act funded workers are helping reduce catastrophic wildland fire hazard in Washoe County regional parks and open spaces by conducting thinning, chipping, piling, and burning operations. Work that is currently about 80 percent complete includes treating 40 acres in Davis Regional Park and 100 acres in Sun Valley Regional Park to lessen fire danger to nearby private residences. More work is planned for completion by the end of the year. In addition to helping bring these lands into compliance with the county's Regional Open Space and Hazardous Fuels and Fire Risk Assessment plans designed to help prevent events similar to the six major fires that have burned 10,000 acres during the past 15 years, the activity is also providing firewood for visitors to nearby campgrounds.

4/25/2012 -- In mid-April on the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, Recovery Act funded workers began building a 38-mile equestrian trail system in the Duhring area of the Marienville Ranger District where horse riding is a popular pastime. For safety reasons, during construction visitors are asked to pay attention to maps located throughout the area and to remain off new trail sections until they are posted as open. The work that will contribute to outdoor recreation opportunities and benefit local economies will be finished by December.

4/24/2012 -- In Colorado on the Pawnee National Grassland (PNG), bird enthusiasts have begun a full season of enjoying the benefits of Recovery Act funded Bird Tour project work finished in 2011 to repair degraded roads by replacing aggregate surfacing, establishing view points, and adding interpretive signing. In addition to contributing to traveler safety, work on the Bird Tour that uses grassland and county roads is enhancing opportunities to view a variety of bird species in their natural environment. Located in northeast Weld County, the PNG is known internationally for its outstanding bird watching experiences that support the local tourism economy.

4/23/2012 -- In South Dakota’ s Spearfish Canyon, Forest Service Recovery Act funded workers are helping mitigate catastrophic wildfire risk on wildland-urban interface state and private lands by reducing fuel loading on approximately 160 acres. Before project work began in 2010, the State of South Dakota, the grant administrator, engaged a project manager and conducted extensive planning to develop treatment units and landing sites in cooperation with stakeholders. Both skilled logging operators and young adult crews have accomplished thinning and prescribed- and pile- burning operations on about two-thirds of the acres and expect to finish the remainder by the end of the coming field season. In addition to reducing fire risk, improving forest health, and helping protect tree stands from landscape-scale insect and disease outbreaks, the project is helping young workers gain valuable skills to boost their competitive edge for wildland firefighting and long-term forest industry jobs.

4/20/2012 -- In cooperation with the Coconino Rural Environment Corps, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in Arizona have been working seasonally since 2009 to accomplish over 300 miles of non-contiguous heavy trail maintenance and brushing. Recovery Act funded workers are using chainsaws and hand tools to clear trees and logs along trail corridors; removing brush from trails; completing tread work; and cleaning and installing drainage structures associated with non-motorized trails. Located within several economically depressed counties, project work originally scheduled to be finished in 2012 is about 50 percent complete, as the 2011 Wallow Fire (Arizona’s largest wildfire in history) caused unforeseen delays. In addition to supporting a young American workforce with stewardship education and job training, the work is contributing to outdoor recreationists’ enjoyment and enhanced safety while protecting watersheds and reducing annual maintenance costs.

4/19/2012 -- In southern California, the Forest Service and partners continue to use Forest Service Recovery Act funds to support goldspotted oak borer education outreach efforts concerning this pest that has killed tens of thousands of oak trees in San Diego County. The goldspotted oak borer, a half-inch-long beetle attacks that mature oaks, is native to Arizona but not to California. In early May, Forest Service specialists and others will present information learned from on-going research and outreach activities conducted over the past year. Topics include oak mortality and at-risk area information; identification and assessment; control method research; and oak woodland resiliency and restoration best management practices. Workshops scheduled on May 1 in Altadena and May 2 in Temecula will interest land managers; parks and campground personnel; arborists; landscape professionals; and others responsible for oak woodland stewardship.

4/18/2012 -- The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) is working to resolve issues in a USDA Office of Inspector General audit concerning the state’s accounting of $5.1 million in Forest Service Recovery Act funding. An OIG interim report in November 2011 said AFC should repay $14.4 million because three Forest Service grants were not properly accounted for as required by regulations that came out in 2004. A follow-up audit in January allowed $9.3 million of the original $14.4 million, leaving $5.1 million for AFC to either prove was spent correctly or potentially be liable for repayment. AFC will respond by April 30 and expects to demonstrate that the amount still in question should be considered allowable. Since 2009 AFC has accomplished extensive work to control invasive cogongrass, restore native longleaf pine habitat, and reduce catatrophic wildfire risk. The Forest Service looks forward to resolving this matter and continuing its productive relationship with AFC, who has been a key partner for many decades.

4/17/2012 -- In Montana, Recovery Act-funded work at the popular Lake Como recreation site on the Bitterroot National Forest is underway again in a final multi-year infrastructure upgrade effort. On April 16, contractors began a three-week-long project to expand and pave the boat launch parking lot and the site’s entrance road. Since 2010, work to improve the most heavily used recreation site in the Forest Service’s Northern Region has included a new ramp and dock set-up that allows two boats to be launched simultaneously. The Bitterroot also used Recovery Act funds to renovate the Three Frogs Campground and nearly double the campground’s size in an area where visitor numbers have doubled in the last five years. In addition, building a new group-use camping area and trailhead information boards and restoring and stabilizing the historic Wood's Cabin were also undertaken. Besides supplying construction jobs to local contractors, the improvements are enhancing year-round outdoor recreation opportunities and supporting continued tourism growth.

4/16/2012 -- Near the communities of Reno and Sparks, Nev., Forest Service Recovery Act funded workers have been conducting wildland fire restoration activities on approximately 1,500 acres of non-federal lands that were burned in the 1996 Belli Fire. Seasonally since 2010, contractors have been chemically and mechanically treating areas for noxious weeds adjacent to homes in the Riverbend Road and Boomtown areas while planting and broadcast-seeding native shrubs, trees, and grasses in riparian corridors and upland areas within the fire boundary. In addition, workers installed two stream crossings to reduce erosion and improve water quality within the Truckee River watershed. The efforts are also improving wildlife habitat while reducing future catastrophic wildland fire risk in the wildland-urban interface adjacent to federal lands. Spot treatments, re-planting, seeding, and monitoring activities are scheduled to be accomplished in the coming field season.

4/13/2012 -- In acknowledging its 30th anniversary, the Western North Carolina Alliance noted among its highlights the Forest Service Recovery Act funding that is supporting invasive species work on the Nantahala National Forest Cheoah Ranger District. In 2009 WNCA secured Recovery Act funds to put 12 people, including ten members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, to work seasonally on a five-year project to control invasive plants along nine miles of the Cheoah River. Twelve non-native invasive species exist on the Cheoah River banks or in the river, affecting two federally listed species: Virginia spirea (a federally threatened shrub) and the Appalachian elktoe (a federally endangered mussel). Tribal crew members are cutting invasive plants along the project area and then treating cut stems with an herbicide over a multiple-year period, a necessity for these persistent invasive species. Project work will continue through 2014. Founded in 1982, WNCA is the only grassroots environmental advocacy group focused solely on conserving western North Carolina’s natural heritage.

4/12/2012 -- On the Chugach National Forest, Recovery Act funds are supporting a multi-year, multi-partner stream and riparian restoration effort designed to reestablish aquatic habitat, riparian health, and fish passage while improving recreational opportunities for visitors to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Construction activities near the junction of the Seward and Sterling highways in the mid-1990s brought about the need to restore approximately 2,000 feet of the Daves Creek stream channel downstream of the Tern Lake outlet and replace an existing culvert with a bridge. Other activities workers have undertaken since 2009 include rebuilding the fish viewing platform and existing user trails in the Tern Lake day-use area to accommodate visitors of all abilities. Workers will install interpretive signs on-site in 2012 to highlight the restoration project as well as the importance of aquatic habitats. Preliminary results of this project are positive: numerous salmon have been observed in the new stream channel, which is maintaining itself as designed. Riparian foliage growth is excellent, with high survival rates of transplanted and planted vegetation. Monitoring of stream channel condition, vegetation, invasive plants, and aquatic habitat and populations will continue over the next several years.

4/11/2012 -- In Vermont, the Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, and Vermont Mountain Bike Association earned the Vermont Trails & Greenways Council’s Project of the Year Award for their work on the Leicester Hollow Trail project in the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area. The project, financed in large part with Recovery Act funds, involved restoration of this popular trail following 2008 storm damage. The group received the award for demonstrating creativity, cooperation, excellence, and environmental stewardship while enhancing recreation trail opportunities. This specific project restored a beloved historical trail and created a sustainable mountain biking and hiking trail loop. The Vermont Trails & Greenways Council helps plan for the future of Vermont’s recreational activities by promoting trail development and maintenance; coordinating public and private trail efforts; encouraging education programs; and recommending trail and greenway program fund allocations.

4/10/2012 -- A Forest Service Recovery Act funded project designed to promote local growers, garden centers and landscape professionals while educating the public about Rhode Island’s native biodiversity to improve its natural environment continues to have far-reaching benefits. In 2010 the Rhode Island Natural History Survey* (RINHS) used a Forest Service Recovery Act grant in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to found the Rhody Native initiative to offer indigenous plant material to homeowners, landscape designers, and organizations involved in habitat restoration. As one facet of the Forest Health Works Project** (FHWP), the collaborative effort among local horticulturists, volunteers, and botanists to supply locally sourced and grown products continues. A full line of locally-adapted native plants became available in 2011, and more are coming for the 2012 season. An FHWP report is available on the RINHS Web site .

*The Rhode Island Natural History Survey is an independent non-profit organization founded in 1994 to gather and disseminate information on Rhode Island’s animals and plants, geology, and ecosystems;… to foster environmental science education; and to support naturalists and the study of Rhode Island’s natural history.

**The Forest Health Works Project (FHWP) is a Recovery Act-funded effort to address forest health, a multidimensional concept that describes forest sustainability and includes ecological, economic, and social components. Although invasive plants were the main issue addressed through the FHWP, other aspects of forest health incorporated into the project include wildlife management, native plant propagation and marketing, recreational usage, environmental education, and the livelihood of forest-related industries in Rhode Island.

 

4/9/2012 -- In northern Idaho, residents and visitors to four communities in Kootenai and Bonner counties are benefitting from Forest Recovery Act funded project work to reduce safety hazards and improve forest health on public property. As grant administrator, the State of Idaho sub-awarded funds to the communities of Coeur d'Alene, Hayden, Post Falls, and Sandpoint for contracted tree pruning and removal. Altogether arborists removed 483 hazardous or dead trees and pruned 1,803 high-priority trees over the life of the grant, which was closed last month. The work to care for healthy existing trees is helping stem the loss of urban forestry canopy cover nationally. According to Forest Service researchers an estimated four million trees are disappearing from urban areas in the United States each year. Due to funding constraints, public tree maintenance is often deferred even though community trees provide tangible economic, environmental, and social benefits.

4/6/2012 -- A Recovery Act funded biomass boiler at the Tongass National Forest’s Southeast Discovery Center that became operational in September 2011 is supporting a growing effort in southeastern Alaska to use biomass as a sustainable alternative to oil-fueled heating systems. The heavily visited center which opened in 1995 contains exhibits and interactive displays on Alaskan land, people, and culture. Located just one block from the cruise ship docks in downtown Ketchikan, the center offers visitors unique opportunities such as visiting a temperate rainforest, witnessing a native fish camp, and viewing wildlife up close through a spotting scope. The biomass unit is using a renewable resource efficiently produced from waste generated by the timber industry while contributing to sustainable operations.

4/5/2012 -- In Emmett, Idaho, a new sawmill funded in part by Forest Service Recovery Act funds that has been closed will re-open in mid-May. During the closure, Emerald Wood Products owner Dick Vinson and his partners have been working to resolve processing efficiency issues that brought about the shut-down after the mill had been open for nearly a year. For example, workers are completing a new stack system, making changes to the dry kilns, and installing new equipment. The retooling efforts are designed to help the plant reach acceptable production levels that will support forest health improvement in the timber-rich area while providing permanent mill jobs and additional support jobs in an area hard hit by the declining housing industry and general economic downturn.

4/3/2012 -- On the Kootenai National Forest, Recovery Act funded workers continue to thin a large backlog of tree stands that the Forest had not been able to undertake with traditional funding. Hazardous fuels reduction activities including slashing, piling, and masticating are helping trees of desired species be more resilient to insect and disease outbreaks; catastrophic wildland fire; and potential climate change effects while supporting forest industry jobs in Lincoln and Sanders counties which have sustained the highest unemployment rates in Montana for the past several years. While much of the work that began in late 2009 has been completed, all Recovery Act funded pre-commercial thinning and hand-piling contracts on nearly 5,000 acres near the communities of Eureka, Fortine, Libby, Noxon, Thompson Falls, and Troy will be finished this summer.

4/2/2012 -- In California, land managers are benefitting from a new Recovery Act funded Web site that provides invasive plant surveillance, eradication, and containment strategic information opportunities. Using a Forest Service State and Private Forestry grant through the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Invasive Plant Council developed the CalWeedMapper Web site that displays data on all 200 invasive plant species from a statewide inventory. Land managers can use numerous reports to prioritize their invasive plant management; to coordinate at the landscape level (county or larger); and to justify funding requests. Invasive plant location information is designed to stay current by allowing users to edit data. Cal-IPC is offering training to encourage users to take advantage of this powerful system, including “train the trainer” webinars to maximize the number of people who can effectively utilize this new technology to address one of California’s top environmental threats. The tool is available at http://calweedmapper.calflora.org/ .

3/30/2012 -- In Washington State, Recovery Act funded work to maintain the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center that overlooks Coldwater Lake within the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is supporting other recreational enhancements in the area while helping ensure increased use of the facilities that have been closed to the public since 2007. In 2010 Recovery Act-funded workers replaced the visitor center’s leaking windows and repaired the roof to protect the infrastructure that also serves as a remote mechanical operations hub for Johnston Ridge Observatory, which is inaccessible during the winter months. Currently the Gifford Pinchot National Forest uses the facility for training sessions. The forest is working to increase use of the center that complements recently approved guided kayaking trips on the lake this year, the first time the lake will be open to outfitter and guide companies since its 1980 creation when the volcanic eruption damned Coldwater Creek.

3/29/2012 -- On the Flathead National Forest in northwest Montana, Recovery Act funded road maintenance and reconstruction underway seasonally since spring of 2010 will resume when weather and travel conditions permit. All activity is expected to be finished by mid-summer. Contractors are resurfacing over 100 miles of National Forest System roads with either gravel or asphalt to enhance traveler safety and protect watershed health and natural resources along with replacing culverts to improve streamflow and fish passage. The work that also includes replacing and adding road signs is benefiting both area residents and the tens of thousands of annual visitors in addition to reducing the deferred maintenance backlog.

3/28/2012 -- On March 29, the Inyo National Forest Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center in Lee Vining, Calif., will re-open to the public. In 2011, the Forest Service installed a Recovery Act funded photovoltaic power system at the visitor center. Agreements with Southern California Edison on how to distribute the generated power have been reached, and the solar system will soon be supplying the visitor center with over 60 percent of its annual electricity needs. This will contribute to Forest Service sustainable operations efforts and reduce operating expenses.

3/27/2012 -- This month in its seventh quarterly Stimulus at Work report, the City of Philadelphia featured the Forest Service Recovery Act funded project that helped its Fairmount Park system move toward a safer, more stable, functional, and sustainable ecosystem. Workers restored several areas of the nearly 10,000-acre system that plays a vital role in providing key habitat for rare plants and insects and supporting carbon sequestration and storm water management for the city by clearing invasive species, removing hazard trees, and planting about 12,000 native trees and shrubs. Workers also built new trails to increase park access and contribute to inner city revitalization, thus improving spiritual, physical, recreational, and aesthetic benefits throughout the city.

3/26/2012 -- In Arizona on March 20, the Coronado National Forest, the University of Arizona, and other partners hosted an open house at Florida Station on the Nogales Ranger District to highlight Recovery Act funded rehabilitation work while promoting future partnerships and showcasing services available to the community. The Coronado National Forest and the University of Arizona co-manage the station that serves as headquarters of the 80-square-mile Santa Rita Experimental Range south of Tucson, the oldest rangeland research area in the United States where approximately 30 livestock research and ecological service studies are underway at any given time. Over the past couple of years, local contractors replaced the aged sewer system and rehabilitated many 80-year-old buildings, improving the site’s accessibility and capacity for research and environmental education activities.

3/23/2012 -- The Alabama Cogongrass Control Center (ACCC) is ramping up for its final treatment season set to begin at the end of the month using Forest Service Recovery Act funds. Barring additional funding or project extensions, the multi-year herbicide application and monitoring services will end in May. Project managers have been busy monitoring any cogongrass green-up; processing last year's data, and preparing for the upcoming spray season during which workers will treat approximately 14,000 cogongrass patches across the state---over 3,000 more than last year. The Alabama Forestry Commission instituted the ACCC to suppress the invasive plant species through specific strategies in targeted areas of Alabama while allowing for job creation and retention. In a recently published snapshot of project activity since it began in September 2009, the ACCC reported workers have identified over 24,000 cogongrass spots covering over 2,000 acres in 41 counties. Thirty spray crews working for five contractors have been treating the invasive that spreads quickly and disrupts ecosystems, reduces wildlife habitat and can decrease tree seedling establishment and growth. The ACCC has already selected this spring’s spraying locations, but landowners can still request help documenting cogongrass on new properties to reduce costs because much of the cost of treating cogongrass is locating it. Cogongrass is considered one of the top ten most invasive weeds in the world. Unchecked, cogongrass will dominate the southern landscape, turning a dynamic and diverse ecosystem into an unsuitable and unproductive monoculture and defeating multiple-use objectives such as recreation, wildfire habitat, hay and sod production, timber management, and biodiversity conservation.

3/22/2012 -- A Forest Service Recovery Act grant to the Land-of-Sky Regional Council (LOSRC) to implement the Western North Carolina Forest Products Cooperative Marketing Project provided the momentum to help local businesses expand and diversify while offering producers and consumers a practical means of finding one another. LOSRC is a non-profit, voluntary association of local governments that manages regional projects and provides services to its members in the areas of planning, economic and community development since 1966. Fourteen western North Carolina businesses received sub-grants through a competitive process to expand into new product lines, improve marketing, and provide workforce training. Funding these businesses has directly contributed to job growth and the overall supply chain of forest products. Each of these businesses currently purchases forest products directly from landowners, handcrafters, local sawyers, artisans, and gleaners. In addition, Recovery Act funds supported the compilation of the WNC Forest Resource Directory, an online source of forest management services and resources for owners of forestland in western North Carolina. The directory that can be found at http://wncforestowners.org/ offers Web site visitors numerous categories that list service providers, supplies, and other resources for managing small forest ownerships, including businesses who may be interested in purchasing timber and non-timber forest products. More information can be found at http://wncforestproducts.org/.

3/21/2012 -- In late February, the Florida Forest Service (FFS) reported Forest Service Recovery Act funded longleaf pine ecosystem management activities over the past two years have established or improved over 20,000 acres of longleaf pine habitat while creating and retaining forestry sector jobs in local economies during challenging times. Longleaf pine landscapes across the state have benefited from this multi-faceted program that has included reforestation, understory enhancement, and other management practices. Accomplishments noted thus far from the grant program that will end in June include an increase in acreage and improvement of the conditions on 20 state forests and two sister agencies’ lands as well as private forest acres. In addition, Recovery Act grant funds supported expanded growing capacity for both longleaf pine and native understory seedlings at the FFS nursery in Chiefland plus longleaf pine restoration and management training for forestry professionals and private landowners. The FFS indicated every program goal has been exceeded, and the program’s positive effects will be evident for decades.

3/20/2012 -- On the Chugach National Forest in Alaska, Recovery Act funded trail work to construct or reconstruct approximately 20 miles of the Iditarod National Historic Trail underway seasonally since June of 2010 will be finished this summer. Because much of the original Iditarod trail in this area has been used for other transportation routes such as the Seward Highway and the Alaska Railroad; contractors are building a pedestrian trail that will complete two priority segments from Johnson Pass through Turnagain Pass and from Primrose north to Vagt Lake. The work that also includes repairing the Victor Creek and Ptarmigan Creek trails from their trailheads near the Seward Highway to where they join into the new trail will enhance year-round outdoor recreation opportunities within a short drive of Anchorage. Trail crew members have expressed pride in helping build infrastructure that will help get others outdoors while commemorating an important piece of history—the route made famous by gold prospectors and their dog teams during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

3/19/2012 -- On the Kootenai National Forest in Montana, a Recovery Act funded local contractor has been hired to remove three barriers to westslope cutthroat trout migration in the Clark Fork River Basin. Workers will remove and dispose of one large culvert; remove a gabion structure that previous flooding had damaged and build a drivable ford; and replace one large culvert with a large bottomless arch that will allow passage for fish and other aquatic organisms. The contractor will begin work as soon as snow and spring runoff conditions permit, with plans to finish the project by fall. The activities designed to improve once abundant westslope cutthroat trout populations first described by Lewis and Clark will enhance outdoor recreation opportunities for anglers and are part of a larger effort to repair infrastructure, protect watersheds, and promote fisheries on the forest.

3/16/2012 -- On March 14, events to commemorate two Forest Service Recovery Act funded biomass boilers designed to reduce heating costs and support Maine’s economy while contributing to forest health took place in Gardiner and Waterville. Congressional, federal, state, and local officials gathered to acknowledge Gardiner’s City Hall oil boiler replacement with two wood pellet boilers built into a modular structure that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60 tons over its life. At Waterville Senior High School, federal, state, and local officials joined staff and students for the biomass boiler ribbon cutting that also included discussions about the benefits of renewable energy with the school’s “green team.” The school expects the conversion will save upwards of $85,000 annually to heat its 139,000-square-foot building. The projects are two of 22 fossil-to-renewable fuel conversions made possible statewide through an $11.4 million Forest Service Recovery Act grant to the State of Maine, which used the grant to stand up its Fuels for Public Buildings sub-grant program. Grantees contributed another $20 million in cost-share that is helping support hundreds of manufacturing and construction jobs.
 

3/15/2012 -- In Alaska, Recovery Act funded project work supporting a world-class recreation and transportation network for visitors to the Chugach National Forest and Kenai Peninsula communities that began in 2011 will be underway again when weather permits this spring. The Whistle Stop Project is a long-term partnership effort between the Forest Service and Alaska Railroad Corporation. It will eventually include several railroad stops between the Portage Valley and Moose Pass along with a trail network inter-connecting all of the stops with cabins dispersed throughout. As part of the project, Recovery Act funded workers are building a 280-foot timber-truss pedestrian bridge over the Placer River and platforms, pavilions, and a restroom adjacent to the railroad tracks at Grandview. The bridge is the key connector to the planned 35-mile-long Glacier Discovery Trail that will unite the backcountry stations. The Grandview Whistle Stop will offer sweeping views of a lush alpine valley and glaciers. Contractors expect to finish work by mid-summer, adding to business opportunities for outfitter and guides, the railroad, and local communities while enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities for people of all abilities.

3/14/2012 -- In central Arizona, on the Prescott National Forest, Recovery Act funded workers are helping reduce wildland fire risk to the wildland-urban interface communities of Prescott, Cherry, and Dewey by developing a fuelbreak system on nearly 6,000 acres. Workers are masticating brush species within the project area to help protect these communities from incidents such as the 2002 Indian Fire that burned six homes, caused major evacuations, and threatened hundreds of lives. Thus far the work that will also improve wildlife habitat and watershed conditions and stabilize soil has been completed on approximately 5,000 acres with plans to finish all project work by May.

3/13/2012 -- In late February Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor Julie King met with Ravalli County Commissioners to review the results of a recently released Northern Region report examining the Bitterroot’s contribution to local economies in Montana and Idaho. The report acknowledged the $10 million in Recovery Act-funded project work over the past year that doubled the size of a popular campground; installed a new boat ramp; improved roads and reconstructed bridges; updated older forest buildings and facilities; added new interpretive and trailhead signs; and supported hazardous fuels reduction work.

3/12/2012 -- In Alaska last month, Recovery Act funded workers completed mechanical and hand-thinning hazardous fuel reduction activities on approximately 700 acres on the Kenai Peninsula near the isolated communities of Hope, Sunrise, and Summit Lake, whose proximity to heavy dead and down fuel amid local wind regimes cause them to face extreme wildfire risk. Alaska’s 10-million-acre Kenai Peninsula Borough is in the midst of a regional spruce bark beetle outbreak that has resulted in extensive spruce mortality on approximately one million acres. Work that began in early 2010 removed spruce bark beetle-infested dead and dying trees along critical egress roads while improving tree resistance to insect attack and replacing fire-prone spruce with birch stands that have a lower rate of spread. The activities were among those identified in the community wildfire protection plan the Chugach National Forest and local community members, fire districts, and government agencies completed in 2006. In addition to protecting communities and providing meaningful work, the project generated firewood that is always in demand among local residents.

3/9/2012 -- This week, Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon introduced legislation to tighten restrictions on a visa program that was used to hire Forest Service Recovery Act funded foreign workers at the expense of Oregon forest workers. Last year, a Department of Labor investigation found federal stimulus funds were awarded to Oregon-based contractors who underbid competition by using foreign laborers under legal loopholes in the H-2B visa program that permits employers to temporarily hire foreign workers if they can establish that no Americans are qualified or available for the work. While reforms to the program that gave hundreds of foreign workers opportunities to work on Recovery Act funded hazardous fuels reduction projects in Oregon will go into effect next month, the American Jobs in American Forests Act would further amend the H-2B process to ensure that contractors are held to even tougher standards, including enhanced recruitment of U.S. workers, state workforce agency employer recruitment compliance certification, and separate H-2B visa program applications for work planned in other states. According to Oregon Employment Department Director Laurie Warner, Oregon’s job seeker database includes 4,110 forest and conservation workers and 1,237 forest and conservation technicians actively seeking work.

3/8/2012 -- In rural Arizona communities, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are being used to support forest health protection, rehabilitation, and hazardous fuels mitigation activities. Most components are being implemented through sub-grants with local fire departments that began in mid-2010 and are scheduled for completion by mid-2012. For example, the Crown King Fire District fuels crew has been working with AmeriCorps to treat about 40 acres in the east and northeast parts of town. The Groom Creek Fire District is treating 100 acres. This work includes creating a fuel break of vegetation five inches in diameter and smaller using a prescription model consistent with that being used by the Prescott National Forest. This accommodates a diversity of species type, age, and grouping aesthetics. Workers are chipping biomass for donation to local summer camps for use in horse corrals and boarding facilities while firewood-grade materials are being made available to low-income families in the project vicinity.

Meanwhile, in Hot Springs, Ark., the Urban Forestry Advisory Committee, Parks and Recreation Department, and Hot Springs Lion’s Clubs have sponsored an Adopt-a-Tree event. The Forest Service Recovery Act funded effort is designed to help improve the city’s tree canopy while enhancing urban forestry education outreach efforts.

3/7/2012 -- In Maine, the City of Gardiner’s biomass boiler became operational in late February; Forest Service Recovery Act funds supported half of the $120,000 pellet-burning system that is expected to save the City approximately $12,000 annually over the cost of heating with oil. Project managers are planning to host a ribbon cutting in mid-March. The Maine Forest Service has been administering 22 Recovery Act grants valued at $11.4 million awarded to schools, universities, medical centers, and other public buildings around the state for the installation of wood-energy boilers that are contributing to increased forest industry growth and supporting forest health.

3/6/2012 -- On March 5 in Reno, private consultants presented findings concerning the Forest Service Recovery Act funded Truckee Meadows Service Area Urban Tree Canopy Study in cooperation with the Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF). Attendees included federal, county, and city government officials as well as representatives from area forest industry businesses and natural resource nonprofits. AMEC Earth and Environmental’s recently completed study that contained numerous recommendations for achieving tree canopy goals involved measuring tree-canopy cover using high-resolution color-infrared aerial imagery for the urbanized areas of Reno, Sparks, Sun Valley, and Spanish Springs. Interest is high in utilizing the newly acquired information to support urban forestry programs by providing community planners and their partners critical information regarding current land-use and open-space distributions to help direct future patterns of growth and greenspace development. NDF received Recovery Act funding to offer competitive grants to local communities to enhance urban vegetation, reduce heat island effects, and improve community aesthetics.

3/5/2012 -- In Alaska this winter, snowmachiners have been enjoying the four Recovery Act-funded bridges on the Iditarod National Historic Trail that workers finished building last summer. The trail south of Anchorage commemorates America's last great gold rush and connects people to a time when sled dogs and mushers hauled tons of mail and supplies over 2,600 miles of frozen trail and tundra. The Chugach National Forest is working with several partners to restore and develop over 180 miles of year-round recreation trail along the Southern Trek of the Iditarod between Seward and Girdwood. The new bridges have provided a travel route generally outside of avalanche zones while greatly improving outdoor recreation access opportunities and enabling local small communities along the route to provide services to more trail users to benefit the economy.

3/2/2012 -- In northwest Indiana, partners engaged in a Forest Service Recovery Act funded project that supported a conservation vocation training program intended to reapply laid-off steel and manufacturing employees’ technical knowledge and expertise to help address the green infrastructure needs of the region's urban-industrial lands are seeking other funding to continue the effort. Beginning in 2010 Recovery Act funds supported 18 months of training for people working on several projects with nonprofits such as the Shirley Heinze Land Trust, a charitable land conservation group. In addition to offering broad opportunities to help trainees obtain gainful employment, the project helped improve environmental quality and habitat health in urban communities.

3/1/2012 -- This spring, the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) in eastern Arizona expects to have approximately 90,000 seedlings ready for planting as a result of the Forest Service Recovery Act funded Native Plant Nursery that officially opened last fall. The nursery project was initiated in response to the Fort Apache Bureau of Indian Affair’s decision to shut down the McNary Nursery in 2008 due to the devastating damage to the greenhouse facilities caused by an accidental gas-line explosion. The new nursery is supporting the WMAT’s reforestation and native plant watershed restoration efforts on the 280,000 acres destroyed by the Rodeo-Chediski Fire in 2002. With the 2011 Wallow Fire burning over 500,000 acres in Arizona and New Mexico, the need for seedlings has become even greater. In addition to cultivating seedlings and native plants; the project has provided jobs for the WMAT community, which experiences annual unemployment rates well above national averages.

2/29/2012 -- On March 1 in Montana, the Forest Service Northern Region will honor a Flathead National Forest employee as Managerial Engineer of the Year for his success in spearheading numerous Recovery Act-funded projects to benefit visitors while caring for resources. The Region will recognize Assistant Forest Engineer Shawn Boelman at the annual Northern Region engineering meeting for his leadership that has helped restore facilities and improve roads through numerous Recovery Act projects. For example, in 2009 contractors resurfaced asphalt at the Swan Lake Picnic Area and Campground located north of the community of Swan Lake. In 2010, workers built the Doris Point boat launch and dock at the Hungry Horse Reservoir along with restrooms, a picnic area, 70 long parking spaces for trucks towing trailers; and ten new camping sites. Under Boelman’s oversight, contractors also resurfaced the popular West Hungry Horse Reservoir Road to improve this major recreation gateway and help protect the watershed through reduced erosion and sedimentation.

2/28/2012 -- In New Mexico, Recovery Act-funded workers have thinned 3,200 acres on the Carson National Forest and private land around communities such as Angel Fire, Lama, Pot Creek, and Questa. In addition to improving forest health and making communities safer by removing hazardous fuels and creating fuelbreaks, the downed trees have been providing local residents with much-needed firewood. Approximately 4,000 firewood cords were available to northern New Mexico residents that depend heavily on wood with which to heat and cook. The work consisted of multiple contracts involving tree thinning to be followed by slash piling in some areas. Workers completed all thinning contracts in 2010. Slash-piling work began in 2011 but was not completed due to early snow. Workers will continue slash-piling efforts this spring when weather and ground conditions permit, with plans to complete all remaining work by mid-summer.

2/27/2012 -- The Urban Corps of San Diego County -- a locally-based nonprofit conservation corps that provides a high school education and green job training to young adults ages 18-25 -- was selected to receive both Project of the Year and Legacy Achievement awards during the Corps Network's 2012 National Conference recently held in Washington, D.C. In the spring and summer of 2010, through a partnership between the Forest Service and the California Conservation Corps, Urban Corps members worked on a portion of the Cleveland National Forest's Recovery Act funded Wilderness trail projects. Corps members carried out four miles of trail maintenance on the Palomar Ranger District in San Diego County by excavating soil, cleaning water bars, performing brushing, and clearing rocks, boulders, and logs to reestablish trail locations that were slumped or washed out. The completed work is contributing to the safety and enjoyment of trail users recreating in the great outdoors and also provided young people with conservation-related employment education opportunities worthy of national attention.

2/24/2012 -- In California, on the Cleveland National Forest, the Recovery Act funded 17-month cleanup of a former Air Force radar base in the Laguna Mountains 40 miles east of San Diego is nearly complete. A local contractor has been at work since September 2010 tearing down rundown buildings on the 45-acre site and removing hazardous materials such as asbestos and toxic mercury. This project also recycled thousands of tons of concrete and steel from the base that was once the site of a cold war radar station. Workers have been spreading native seed and straw to help return the site to its natural state. While the site’s lower area may be opened to foot traffic by mid-April, the upper section will remain closed until additional hazardous material work is finished and the area is re-vegetated. The project, that is said to be the biggest non-fire-related ecological restoration initiative in the history of the Cleveland National Forest, has raised the possibility of re-routing about a half-mile of the nearby Pacific Crest Trail to allow hikers to enjoy the site’s panoramic views.

2/23/2012 -- This spring on the Manti-La Sal National Forest, the popular Buckeye Recreation Area in southwestern Colorado will re-open following Recovery Act funded upgrades that contractors finished this past fall. Visitors will be impressed with the two-season transformation effort that includes 50 new individual and group campsites with tables, fire rings, and graveled spurs, 19 of which require no fees to use. Workers also replaced restrooms and built a new concrete boat ramp along with gravel roads throughout the recreation area. In addition, the work consisted of culvert, cattle guard, and signage installations while obliterating some user-created roads and building graveled pathways. Fences now protect the shoreline from vehicular travel, so plants have grown back. The completed work has made the area safer and more attractive while providing added recreational opportunities and protecting resources.

2/21/2012 -- The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) recently announced it is offering Forest Service Recovery Act funded fuel-reduction assistance grants of up to $400 per acre to Jackson County residents that will provide employment opportunities for forest industry workers. In addition to creating a 100-foot fuel break around a home, project work can also include thinning along roadsides or property lines to improve emergency vehicle access and help stop or slow oncoming fires. Interested homeowners will work with ODF inspectors to develop a fuel-reduction plan including a project completion date. Along with meeting the grant requirements, the work must also fulfill Oregon Forestland-Urban Interface Fire Protection Act stipulations that require rural residents to create buffers around their homes to reduce wildfire threat. ODF hopes the work that will reduce wildfire risk in the wildland-urban interface while enhancing firefighter and public safety will be finished before the end of September. 

2/17/2012 -- In New Mexico, Recovery Act funded workers have been upgrading Santa Fe National Forest recreation facilities by installing campground host sites, water systems, and bear-resistant trash containers. While most of the work is complete, in some areas concrete pads are recommended in placing the bear-resistant trash containers, but all 57 receptacles will be in place by this spring. The installations will increase visitor safety by minimizing human-bear conflicts and keeping bears “wild” by not introducing them to human food. The new containers will also help protect wildlife because human food-conditioned bears are often persistent in attempting to obtain food from people, and confrontations between bears and humans frequently result in the bear being destroyed.

2/16/2012 -- In Maine and South Dakota, government officials, natural resource experts, and industry leaders are focused on building upon the upward momentum Forest Service Recovery Act work has brought to state economies while providing long-term benefits to the environment. Last week in Maine, USDA Under Secretary of Rural Development Dallas Tonsager’s visit to a wood pellet plant fostered a discussion about USDA’s continued interest in growing the state’s wood pellet industry. Before the end of 2012, 17 additional Forest Service Recovery Act-funded biomass heating system conversions are expected to come on line to further support Maine’s woody biomass industry, and the National Association of State Foresters recently acknowledged the connection between Maine’s wood pellet industry growth and the $11 million Recovery Act grant that is supporting a total of 22 conversions. In South Dakota, Senator Tim Johnson noted that the Recovery Act has contributed significantly to job training programs designed to advance the state’s economy. Since mid-2009, Forest Service Recovery Act funds have produced an average of 22 full-time equivalent jobs per quarter in South Dakota.

2/15/2012 -- In Oregon, Forest Service Recovery Act-funded hazardous fuels reduction work continues in the Ashland watershed through the 7,600-acre Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project -- a multi-year partnership involving the US Forest Service, the City of Ashland, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, and The Nature Conservancy. The project guides where and how to thin trees and brush within the watershed. Recovery Act funds are expected to support work on 3,000 acres through the fall of 2014 using private contractors and workers from Lomakatsi, a nonprofit, Ashland-based ecological restoration organization, who are removing brush and small-diameter trees and using controlled burns to restore more open forest conditions. The City of Ashland offers a video explaining the project that also involves collaboration with Southern Oregon University faculty and students, interested citizens, and local organizations on its Web site at http://www.ashland.or.us/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=503.

2/14/2012 -- This week in eastern North Carolina, Forest Service Recovery Act funds will support a controlled burn in the Nags Head Woods Preserve, which is home to over 300 plant species, some of which are classified as rare. The Nature Conservancy, which manages the 1,400-acre maritime preserve rich in ecological diversity, has contracted with the North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS) to conduct the burn along with Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head fire department crews. The fire will reduce catastrophic wildfire risk to neighboring communities while improving wildlife habitat. “Having the ARRA money gives us the opportunity to put fire on the ground and get work done in places like Nags Head Woods to reduce the impact from a possible wildfire,” said Rob Shackelford, NCFS Dare County ranger. The effort is part of a state-wide Recovery Act project that also includes community wildfire protection and Firewise plan development in addition to hazardous fuels reduction activities in identified high fire-risk areas.

2/13/2012 -- In Mineral, Powell, and Sanders counties, a Forest Service Recovery Act project is helping fill the forest industry employment gap caused by Montana’s timber industry decline. Thus far local contractors have conducted 45 miles of weed treatments, decommissioned several road segments, removed culverts and established erosion control measures on an over 190-acre area. Workers have also seeded wildfire-disturbed sites with native grasses. The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) is administering the grant that is providing jobs for forestry professionals and wildfire restoration experts while helping state and private landowners with wildfire recovery projects and noxious weed control. Activities planned for completion by fall have been identified as high priorities by all the area partners in the Multi-Agency Integrated Restoration Strategy, a DNRC-led effort focused on bringing state and federal agencies together to work on priority landscapes.

2/10/2012 -- In Maine, Forest Service Recovery Act funded contractors are working to convert heating systems from fossil fuel to biomass or wood burning systems at 22 public buildings across the state. Maine Forest Service officials predict those conversions will reduce use of more than 700,000 gallons of heating oil annually while contributing to a stronger state forest products industry. Tom Wood, who provides oversight for the Maine Forest Service administered Recovery Act program, said of the wood pellet industry, "It keeps the jobs local. It's a renewable clean, efficient energy source, and it gets us off the oil bandwagon.” On February 9, a United States Department of Agriculture official met with the state’s four wood pellet producers to discuss the impact pellet companies have had on the economy through jobs and by giving homeowners and businesses a money-saving heating fuel alternative.

2/9/2012 -- In Colorado, Forest Service Recovery Act funded research to promote the design, construction, start up, commissioning, and operation of a woody biomass co-firing injection system has brought to fruition a newly discovered pulverized coal (PC) burner technology that will allow woody biomass to be a more viable method for a co-fired/co-combusted PC utility boiler. Colorado Springs Utilities is engaged in investigating, researching, and developing this technology that could move the project operational date up by several years. When it becomes operational as early as 2014, the system to create electrical power will require 100,000 dry-tons of woody biomass fuel annually that is expected to come from beetle-killed trees on federal, state, and private lands. In addition to providing long-term forest industry jobs, the system will promote forest health and reduce catastrophic wildland fire danger.

2/8/2012 -- In Idaho, a new sawmill funded in part by Forest Service Recovery Act monies is currently closed, but the owner expects to reopen as early as April following retooling efforts. While Emerald Wood Products in Emmett is in foreclosure and owner Dick Vinson and his partners have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company intends to repay its debts. When the plant in Gem County begins to process logs again, the mill will support forest health improvement in the timber-rich area while helping other wood-related companies to consider locating nearby, bringing with them additional jobs. In 2009, a $4 million Recovery Act grant augmented the mill’s establishment where the owner had already invested nearly $7 million. During the 18-month life of the grant, project construction and start-up work produced an average of 50 jobs per quarter.

2/7/2012 -- Oregon State University recently launched Web pages outlining Forest Service Recovery Act funded efforts to provide outdoor education opportunities to students from underserved communities. For the past two summer seasons, student mentors who had participated in the Inner City Youth Institute outdoor education program, which targeted underserved middle and high school students, worked as mentors for a program called Forests Inside Out!, a two-day natural resource program involving children ages six to 10 from communities in the Portland and Vancouver metropolitan area. Inner City Youth Institute is a Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region program to help recruit and retain diverse individuals in natural resource science and management fields. ICYI mentors helped younger students connect with nature during trips to the World Forestry Center and Hoyt Arboretum and on ranger-led interpretive hikes to Wahkeena and Latourell falls. “Nothing compares to getting students outside,” said Rob Pierce, education director with the World Forestry Center, one of the program’s sponsors. “And it’s important to give those who have never had the opportunity a chance to make that connection.” 

2/6/2012 -- The Nevada Division of Forestry ((NDF) recently announced a meeting planned for March 5 in Reno will include results from the Forest Service Recovery Act funded Truckee Meadows Service Area Urban Tree Canopy Study. Contractors conducting the study measured tree canopy cover using high-resolution color-infrared aerial imagery involving the urbanized areas of Reno, Sparks, Sun Valley, and Spanish Springs. NDF received funding to offer competitive grants to local communities to enhance urban vegetation, reduce heat island effects, and improve community aesthetics. Tree canopy studies support urban forestry programs by providing community planners critical information regarding current land-use and open-space distributions to help direct future patterns of growth and greenspace development.

2/3/2012 -- In California, solar energy projects waiting to be connected to Southern California Edison’s (SCE) power grid, including two Forest Service Recovery Act funded projects, continue to capture media attention. Photovoltaic systems at the Mono Lake Visitor’s Center on the Inyo National Forest and the San Dimas Technology and Development Center (SDTDC) are among several other federally-managed systems waiting to become operational as officials seek to resolve interconnection agreement issues with SCE. Pomona College Environmental Analysis Program Director Char Miller authored a commentary on the topic, stating the San Dimas project is a reflection of the Forest Service's century-plus commitment to scientific innovation and conservation leadership. When connected, these systems will save thousands of dollars in energy costs annually while contributing to sustainable operations.

2/2/2012 -- On Colorado’s White River National Forest, local contractors were able to complete most of the Recovery Act funded Green Mountain recreation site improvements before shutting down work for the season last fall. The work includes new deceleration lanes on Highway 9 and construction of 12 new campsites at Cow Creek South Campground along with two campground host sites. The improved campground entrance will allow vehicles to enter and leave the campground safely. The additional campsites will help to accommodate increased use at this popular site on the shores of Green Mountain Reservoir. The campground host sites will have photovoltaic electrical power and sewer hook ups, allowing the Dillon Ranger District to attract volunteer campground hosts who help with maintenance duties and provide information to campers. Besides providing private sector jobs, the improvements scheduled for completion in late June will enhance Summit County’s tourism economy while reducing facility operation costs and protecting the site’s natural resources.

2/1/2012 -- Forest Service project managers will report on the successful Recovery Act funded Blue Ledge Mine Removal Action on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Hardrock Mining Conference in Denver in April. The meeting is a forum for the exchange of scientific information on current and future environmental issues that shape the future of the mining industry. Last fall, contractors successfully completed a non-time-critical removal action at the Blue Ledge Mine superfund site situated on patented land in remote, rugged mountains just south of the Oregon-California border. Effectiveness monitoring and site maintenance is scheduled for three years, after which the EPA will take over the site.

1/31/2012 -- In Colorado, a Recovery Act funded hazardous fuels reduction project will be finished when weather conditions in the high country permit work to resume in early June. While local contractors completed most of the work to remove mountain pine beetle-killed trees on approximately 1,800 acres on the Roosevelt National Forest in Larimer County during the 2010 and 2011 summer field seasons, a few acres of treatments remain unfinished. In addition to providing forest industry work, the project that is part of a larger effort to address the mountain pine beetle epidemic and hazardous fuels reduction throughout north central Colorado is reducing wildfire and safety hazards to communities, forest users, and firefighters.

1/30/2012 -- On the Coronado National Forest in Arizona and New Mexico, Recovery Act funded work to design, construct or reconstruct potable water systems on all five ranger districts has ensured safe drinking water availability at existing recreation and administrative sites. Contractors conducted numerous activities to upgrade or replace aging water systems, including drilling and developing potable water wells; building water works utility buildings and water distribution, pumping, and chlorination systems; and installing photovoltaic power systems for solar well pumps. In addition to enhancing public safety and recreational experiences, the work is contributing to ongoing sustainable operations and reduced deferred maintenance. While many upgraded sites are currently closed for the season, forest visitors are already benefiting from the completed work that will further enhance local tourism economies as spring and summer approach.

1/27/2012 -- In Benewah County, Idaho, youth, seniors, and state lands are getting a boost from a Forest Service Recovery Act program aimed at reducing noxious weeds and fire hazards on private and public lands. The State of Idaho is managing a three-year program that continues into 2013 which has allowed the county to hire local residents to work on two critical aspects of fuels reduction—treating noxious weeds and overgrown forests. Crew members are spending field seasons cutting brush, limbing and thinning trees, and spraying weeds to reduce fire hazards. On the treatment priority list are lands belonging to those interested tackling the fuels situation on their properties and who indicate a willingness to keep up the treatments once the initial work is completed as well as those owners who are physically unable to do the work, such as seniors and individuals with disabilities. Combining brushing and limbing with noxious weed work has increased work efficiency because when conditions aren’t right for weed spraying, crews shift to brushing and limbing and keep fully occupied all day. Project activities that will begin again next field season are developing the work skills of the mostly college-age crew members, including herbicide application and equipment operation training and job-retention skills. The Recovery Act funding is also allowing Benewah County to better treat noxious weeds through additional weed treatment equipment purchases.

1/26/2012 -- In Wyoming on the Bighorn National Forest, ongoing Recovery Act funded work to complete the Hunter Trailhead and Campground project will resume following snowmelt. For the past two field seasons, contractors have been building a new trailhead and campground with associated spurs, tables, fire rings, restrooms, trash facilities, informational kiosks, and day-use parking. The renovations also include improved horse amenities such as corrals, hitch racks, and feed bunks. In addition to increasing user capacity, addressing mixed-use conflicts, and providing for overnight camping, the project’s strategic relocation of some of the infrastructure will help eliminate ongoing resource damage, as the current trailhead location lies within the water influence zone, and the corrals infringe upon wetlands. The Forest reports the public is looking forward to the upgrades that will be available when the project designed to boost the local tourism industry is finished in mid-summer.

1/24/2012 -- In California, two Forest Service Recovery Act funded solar energy projects are closer to being connected to Southern California Edison’s (SCE) power grid following last week’s face-to-face meeting involving high-level representatives from SCE, the California Public Utilities Commission, General Services Administration, Forest Service, National Park Service, Veterans Administration, and Congress. Commitment to finding solutions brought resolution to several issues. When connected, the photovoltaic systems at the Mono Lake Visitor’s Center on the Inyo National Forest and the San Dimas Technology and Development Center (SDTDC) will save thousands of dollars in energy costs annually while contributing to sustainable operations.

1/23/2012 -- In Arizona on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, local contractors working on hazardous fuel reduction activities on over 1,200 acres in wildland-urban-interface high-priority areas adjacent to or near the community of Vernon will finish the project this spring. Since July 2010, workers have been conducting chainsaw thinning and hand piling of primarily ponderosa pine and juniper species up to nine inches in diameter. Winter weather has temporarily shut the project down, leaving approximately 80 acres to be thinned and piled when work resumes following snowmelt. In addition to providing forest industry work, the treatments are significantly reducing catastrophic wildfire risk and improving forest health while enhancing wildlife forage and reducing soil erosion.

1/20/2012 -- In California, Forest Service officials continue to work with Southern California Edison (SCE) executives to facilitate connection of two Recovery Act-funded photovoltaic systems to SCE’s power grid. A new system at the Mono Lake Visitor’s Center on the Inyo National Forest designed to generate 47,594 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year has been awaiting interconnection for six months. A system at the San Dimas Technology and Development Center (SDTDC) completed in late 2010 is projected to save SDTDC over $70,000 in annual utility costs and would also allow SDTDC to apply credit to the SCE electric meter at the Angeles National Forest for excess SDTDC electricity generated, which is anticipated to be $15,000 to $30,000 annually. Also, SDTDC will transfer the technology as an Excess Power Purchase and Zero Energy facility demonstration project. The system is not yet operational as SCE has not responded to a GSA/SCE Areawide Public Utility contracting package submitted in September 2011. SDTDC officials have been interacting closely with SCE; Pacific Gas and Electric; agency acquisition management personnel; the Office of General Council; California State Governor’s Office; the California Public Utilities Commission; General Services Administration; National Park Service and Veteran’s Administration, who are experiencing similar roadblocks. Late last week the Los Angeles Times reported Senator Barbara Boxer had urged SCE to expedite agreements with national parks and forests so that renewable energy projects, in which millions of dollars have been invested, can begin producing electricity. On January 18, all federal, state, and utility parties, including Senator Boxer’s office, met to find an expeditious solution.

1/19/2012 -- In late December in California, Recovery Act-funded workers finished a project to improve overall forest health conditions and vegetative diversity while reducing the threat of large-scale, high-intensity wildfires on Plumas National Forest land adjacent to communities. Local contractors began working on the Mt. Hough Empire Stewardship Project last winter to masticate nearly 200 acres over multiple treatment blocks and accomplish hand thinning and piling of small-diameter trees and brush along corridors on almost 90 acres. The small-diameter trees were chipped and delivered to a co-generation plant located in nearby Quincy to generate electricity. Contractors also performed road maintenance and upgrades on a few miles of National Forest System roads and trails to improve recreational and public safety access while also enhancing water quality.

1/18/2012 -- In Florida, Forest Service Recovery Act funds have been helping communities reduce wildfire risk by removing fast-growing vegetation within the wildland-urban interface. For example, Florida Division of Forestry hazardous fuels mitigation teams have been chopping brush in Lehigh Acres, a heavily populated area where some of southwest Florida's biggest brush fires in recent years have occurred. State employees and legislators are exploring opportunities to continue to augment hazardous fuels management activities when the Recovery Act funds run out in June.

The Forest Service reports 557 of the required 591, or just over 94 percent, of its contract recipients and 342 of the required 344, or just over 99 percent of its grant and agreement recipients, have responded to the fourth quarter fiscal year 2011 recipient reporting period through the close of business on January 14, which included the extended submission period. The Forest Service will be working to validate reports while continuing to reach out to non-reporters identified in the preliminary results.

1/17/2012 -- In California, the San Bernardino National Forest Baylis Park picnic area has recently been re-opened following Recovery Act funded work to refurbish the popular site that offers breathtaking views of the San Bernardino Valley and surrounding mountains. Contractors and Urban Conservation Corps crews resurfaced the parking lot, built new asphalt curbing, and added new striping in addition to rebuilding pedestrian paths and walkways to accommodate people of all abilities. They also refurbished signs, picnic tables and other seating, and improved landscaping. The newly renovated area that will contribute to the local tourism economy also provided opportunities for young people to obtain valuable environmental conservation work experience through the San Bernardino National Forest Association Urban Conservation Corps workforce development program.

1/13/2012 -- In Kentucky, a Forest Service Recovery Act funded biomass-fired boiler project at Lyon County High School in Eddyville became operational the first week of January. A $1,000,000 dollar grant paid for startup costs, fees, construction, and the boiler itself while providing construction and manufacturing jobs. The wood-to-energy project is predicted to save up to $10,000 annually in heating costs while creating a local market for small-diameter wood and trees typically of low value in traditional lumber markets in addition to ongoing forest industry jobs. The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area oversaw the project designed to serve as a demonstration of wood-to-energy technology for other communities.

1/12/2012 -- This week on the Boise National Forest in Idaho, the Idaho City Ranger District announced the closure of a one-mile stretch of the Granite Creek Road to all public entry during the weekdays to provide for public health and safety while Recovery Act-supported winter logging operations take place adjacent to the road. Under the Mores South Stewardship Project funded in part by the Recovery Act, contractors are conducting timber falling and skidding operations designed to remove hazardous fuels in forested stands adjacent to local communities to lessen catastrophic wildland fire risk and improve overall forest health. The closure is in effect until further notice.

1/11/2012 -- In Washington’s Puget Sound region, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are supporting a suite of research projects to help resource managers and policymakers design and implement strategies to enhance urban natural systems and foster healthier lifestyles. The Pacific Northwest Research Station has been working with the Green Cities Research Alliance -- a network of scientists, local governments, conservation organizations, and urban sustainability professionals -- to collaboratively provide tools and information to evaluate and monitor urban forest conditions; prioritize restoration and conservation activities; and understand what motivates citizens to become involved with local resources stewardship. Activities such as: project planning and development; field data collection; geospatial and statistical analysis; scientific and technical report development; and project result presentations at regional and national conferences are helping workers build skills and knowledge needed for urban natural resources careers while bringing together leading organizations to foster urban sustainability research and expand connections at the community level.

1/10/2012 -- In Arizona, contractors continue to use equipment purchased with Forest Service Recovery Act funds to conduct hazardous fuels reduction activities on the Prescott National Forest. The grant that allowed Arizona-based Dakota Logging, LLC, to purchase a Hydro-axe feller-buncher -- which cuts and carries small trees, and a de-limber that strips and cuts the trees into desired lengths -- is helping clear hundreds of acres of small-diameter trees and chaparral that are being utilized to generate energy. The enhanced wood utilization efficiency is also helping reduce wildland fire danger and improve forest health, indirectly contributing to the tourism economy. Dakota Logging owner Ben Aragon reports the equipment has helped him keep himself and three new employees working.

1/9/2012 -- Forest Service Recovery Act funds are enhancing forest health and access to the 3,563-acre Kane Experimental Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania, thus significantly improving mixed hardwood forest management. Under Allegheny National Forest engineering staff guidance, county workers and an 8a-certified, American Indian, woman-owned, and disadvantaged small business treated seven sites for noxious weed infestation and completed roadside improvements to reduce the road system’s environmental impact. The companion project activities to another Kane Experimental Forest Recovery Act funded road restoration effort also included reducing roadway runoff and planting or removing vegetation as appropriate. In addition to providing meaningful jobs, the project has also improved traveler safety.

1/6/2012 -- A recent University of Oregon study assessing the significance of Oregon’s Biomass Producer or Collector (BPC) tax credit on the state’s economy suggests the program created more economic activity than its costs in foregone tax revenue. It also showed that Recovery Act funds also contributed to woody biomass industry growth while sustaining jobs throughout the region. The State of Oregon reported two businesses using Forest Service Recovery Act funds to harvest forest biomass from logging slash or stewardship projects and deliver it to bioenergy facilities received BPC tax credits, supporting Oregon jobs while reducing hazardous fuels, thus contributing to improved forest health and public safety.

1/5/2012 -- In Missouri, several news outlets have included in articles citing top 2011 state-wide events a Forest Service Recovery Act project that helped six southern Missouri schools install woody biomass boiler systems. The six schools receiving funds held open houses the week of Oct. 24, 2011 to commemorate the project designed to provide lasting benefits to communities and the environment while serving as models for others considering transitioning from burning fossil fuels to renewable woody biomass to heat public buildings. Officials estimate the schools will save $22,000 to $41,000 each annually in heating costs while supporting healthy forests and the state’s forest industry.

1/4/2012 -- In Washington State, a multi-year Forest Service Recovery Act funded research project is helping public utility districts, land managers, planners, regulators, and others at federal, state, and county levels make decisions on restoring fish habitat; anticipate climate change impacts; and provide clean water. Since 2010, the Pacific Northwest Research Station has been working with the Cascadia Conservation District and others to analyze salmon habitat restoration effectiveness in the Entiat River watershed, a low-rainfall area in the Columbia Basin subject to wildland fire and drought conditions typical of the dry interior West. Recovery Act funds have supported field and laboratory workers whose efforts will support restoration of depleted salmon stocks and aquatic and riparian function while meeting the needs of growing human activity in the Entiat River basin, where juvenile salmon and trout habitat is scarce. Researchers have analyzed new data and prepared a preliminary report. Additional sampling is expected to clarify the observations amid the causes and co-varying factors. In addition to providing short-term project work, the effort offers long-term benefits to the Pacific Coast states, where fisheries are critical economically, culturally, and ecologically.

1/3/2012 -- In North Carolina, Forest Service Recovery Act funds continue to support Longleaf Academy courses to better prepare natural resource professionals and private landowners to address management problems and issues specific to longleaf pine ecosystems. The next day-long workshop offered to private landowners will take place January 26 in Lillington, located in central North Carolina. Participants will be offered opportunities to learn about longleaf pine establishment and wildlife management and fire ecology along with state-managed programs designed to encourage natural resource best management practices on private lands. Several federal, state, and local partners, including non-profit entities, are collaborating on a multi-year effort to increase longleaf pine acreage to 8 million acres and improve 1.5 million acres of existing longleaf habitat over the next 15 years in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

12/30/2011 -- A Forest Service Recovery Act funded research project focused on reducing tree mortality from a combination of sudden oak death and insect attacks will help stem the disease that has had devastating effects on oak populations in California and Oregon. Since mid-2010, researchers have been working to identify circumstances that accelerate tree death and are studying compounds that may be effective repellants. Working with the Oregon State University College of Forestry, the Pacific Northwest Research Station has been using Recovery Act funds to support field and laboratory jobs. In addition to providing workers with opportunities to advance their training in the field of forest health protection, the completed study results may provide land managers with a new method for mitigating excessive tree mortality from these organisms to reduce the amount of available fuel and lessen the risk of uncontrollable wildfire and its impacts on nearby communities. Project work will continue through 2012.

12/29/2011 -- In Pennsylvania, successful financial planning of Forest Service Recovery Act funded ecosystem restoration work allowed the City of Philadelphia to restore and maintain six additional sites within the nearly 10,000-acre Fairmount Park System that provides key hab grants with local fire departments. In the Show Low area in Navajo County, the Show Low Fire Department has treated about half of approximately 200 acres, utilizing its fuels crew while creating several part-time positions. Similar efforts are underway at several project sites in Yavapai County, including two areas near Prescott involving approximately 700 acres where contractors and Arizona State Forestry employees are accomplishing the work that began in mid-2010 with completion planned by mid-2012.

12/19/2011 -- The Land Between The Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area’s Recovery Act funded trail bridge demolition and replacement project has reduced LBL’s trail bridge deferred maintenance by 18 percent while helping restore safe access to five separate trail systems in Kentucky and Tennessee for large environmental education school groups and thousands of trail users recreating in the great outdoors. “The project has also been a huge success in helping bring large special events such as dog sled trials, two national championship adventure races, three mountain bike races, a motorized dual sport ride, and numerous Civil War reenactment groups to LBL,” said Bill Ryan, LBL’s OHV and trails manager. The 17 trail bridge replacements, including structures on popular Canal Loop Trail, North/South Trail, and the paved trail near Hillman Ferry Campground, provided steady work for the Kentucky-based contractor and also created or sustained many jobs in the fiberglass; metal hardware; rock quarry; trucking; and wood products and treatments industries.

12/16/2011 -- Residents in Philadelphia are now benefitting from a Forest Service Recovery Act funded tree canopy assessment conducted in late 2010. In light of large-scale tree-planting goals in the city, officials needed better information about both the existing and potential distribution of the forest canopy. In fall 2010, the University of Vermont used LiDAR (remote sensing technology) and geographic information system data layers to conduct the city-wide assessment. Since the assessment’s completion and publication last spring, staff members have used information from the study to engage partners in advancing tree-planting goals for increased tree canopy in the city and to formulate a campaign that will engage everyone from individual homeowners to institutional campuses in the tree-planting initiative.

12/15/2011 -- On the Virgin Islands, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are helping reduce hurricane and fire-related risks along roads on the island of St. Croix. In addition to creating a geographic information system (GIS) database to capture attributes and assess the health of 8,000 individual trees, the Virgin Islands Resource Conservation and Development Council has been training workers in hazard tree evaluation using GIS and global positioning systems along with safe tree management practices such as pruning and removal. To facilitate development of a comprehensive roadside tree management plan, workers have been recording tree proximity to utility lines and roads to help determine the risk of trees becoming hazards. A small-business subcontractor for the roadside inventory project reported being awarded a new urban forestry contract with a local government as a direct result of knowledge developed during the Recovery Act-funded project, suggesting long-term benefits to the island’s economy while enhancing public safety and the urban environment.

12/14/2011 -- In New Mexico, Recovery Act-funded workers have finished redesigning and rebuilding a restroom and Civilian Conservation Corps-era shelter at the popular Little Tesuque Picnic Area on the Santa Fe National Forest Espanola Ranger District. Local contractors began work in fall 2010 to prepare an overall site redesign encompassing a larger group shelter and restroom relocation followed by construction of the new facilities, including five new picnic sites. The upgraded amenities at the day-use site located only a few miles from downtown Santa Fe along the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway will support long-term contributions to the local economy and improved public health conditions, including site accessibility for people of all abilities.

12/13/2011 -- On December 5, the Hollywood Beautification Team, Koreatown Youth and Community Center, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, and North East Trees co-hosted a tree planting event in Los Angeles to celebrate the multiple job creation and community health benefits that have been realized through Forest Service Recovery Act-funded projects completed by the four non-profit groups. Students, volunteers, and staff members conducted the tree planting. Grants administered by California ReLeaf in cooperation with the Forest Service have supported more than 35,000 employment hours that contributed to the Los Angeles-area workforce by teaching green job skills to at-risk youth while improving the environment through the planting, care, and maintenance of more than 21,000 trees since April 2010.

12/12/2011 -- In Iowa, Forest Service Recovery Act funds have allowed the State Forest Nursery in Ames to become more energy efficient, grow healthier seedlings, and improve customer service while creating private sector work using American-made materials. This fall contractors finished a facility restoration project that included conversion from conventional forced air and radiant heaters to geothermal heating and cooling, installation of a radiant energy blanket, and other energy-saving activities. To prevent wildlife from destroying seedlings and to improve seedling quality, workers replaced original 1940s fencing and cleansed ground areas of weeds and soil pathogens. In addition, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources used Recovery Act funds to enhance its seedling inventory and ordering system to benefit both foresters and clients who can now select stock directly from a Web site featuring existing inventory. Besides supporting local employment opportunities, the multi-year effort’s long-term effects include decreasing the nursery’s energy costs while increasing its efficiency and productivity.

12/9/2011 -- In Maine, continued access to the Massabesic Experimental Forest’s important pine-oak management and wildlife experiments is being assured through Recovery Act funded road improvements. Contractors graded and resurfaced roads and replaced several culverts that had previously blocked the passage of fish and other aquatic organisms. Prior to work that began this past summer, the road network’s condition had impeded access to Northern Research Station studies on the experimental forest that supplies knowledge for the entire New England ecosystem. Recovery Act funds will support additional road improvements in the future, including a bridge replacement project slated for completion in summer 2012 to upgrade a structure that is no longer safe for vehicle traffic. In addition to providing work for road crews and material suppliers, this project will enhance efficiency and safety for forest visitors and researchers.

12/8/2011 -- Forest Service Recovery Act funds are supporting efforts to survey for invasive insects and pathogens in urban forest areas near ports of entry into Hawaii. Thus far monitoring work underway since early 2011 using traps in strategically selected urban areas has not detected any new invasive organisms attacking Hawaii’s native tree species. In addition to providing work for scientists, the project is helping ensure conservation of Hawaii’s unique ecosystems through the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources-administered grant that will allow monitoring activities to continue until the end of 2012.

12/7/2011 -- In New Mexico, the Mescalero Apache Tribe’s Forest Service Recovery Act funded effort to retool its sawmill for small-log processing has already been a source of employment and revenue for the tribe and local community. The multi-phase project to re-open the sawmill is designed to return the employment opportunities lost with the mill’s 2008 closure. While business planning efforts and work to solidify markets are still underway, the mill is currently operational, providing 40 jobs for tribal and nearby residents in addition to supporting three independent contractors doing woods operations. In light of the national housing construction downturn, mill workers are generating products for non-traditional markets including railroad ties, bridge supports, pallet stock, and timbers for the oil- and gas-field industry. Tribal leaders expect the mill will be able to operate at full capacity in six months, but market conditions will determine actual production levels.

12/6/2011 -- On the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, Recovery Act-funded workers recently completed rehabilitating three fishing/swimming/boat dock systems on three separate lakes within the Bonners Ferry Ranger District to enhance public safety and recreational opportunities for people of all abilities. A local contractor replaced dock systems at Sinclair, Brush, and Smith lakes with engineered aluminum floating docks and precast concrete abutments and gangways designed to be nearly maintenance free; work underway since mid-2010 also included erosion control and removing and disposing of existing docks and gangways. The integrity of the original decades-old docks had been compromised by rotting boards, deteriorating floats, corroding hardware, and vandalism. In addition to providing work for installers and suppliers, the project offers a long-term contribution to the tourism economy in an area where outdoor recreation, especially fishing, is a popular pastime.

12/5/2011 -- In Colorado, Golden Gate Canyon State Park workers plan to burn small piles of slash wood from late November until the end of the 2011 calendar year as weather and snow conditions permit. The piles are the result of Forest Service Recovery Act funded tree removal work Mile High Youth Corps workers conducted over the past two summers. In addition to offering participants environmental education, life skills, and job-readiness training, the work reduced wildland fire danger along park roads and trails.

In Chicago, the mid-November celebration to acknowledge accomplishments of Greencorps Chicago-Calumet program participants also included recognition of the many partners who supported the Forest Service Recovery Act funded project designed to help individuals with barriers to employment by giving them classroom and on-the-job experience in ecological restoration. Partners in the project that also offers job placement assistance and continued social service support following graduation include city, county, state, and federal agencies as well as non-profit organizations. “In addition to restoring our wetland [the Calumet wetlands], the Greencorps Chicago-Calumet program helps the graduates restore their lives and standing in the community,” said Acting Environment Commissioner Kimberly Worthington.

12/2/2011 -- Work to restore longleaf pine habitat in five Southern states through a Forest Service Recovery Act funded multi-year grant will end next spring. This fall, site preparation work has been underway to ready areas for seedling plantings this coming winter, primarily in Florida and Georgia. Completed nursery improvements have increased the longleaf seedling capacity by nearly 8 million seedlings in state nurseries in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In addition, Longleaf Academy courses to better prepare natural resource professionals to address management problems and issues specific to longleaf pine ecosystems through which over 350 professionals have already been trained will continue this winter. Along with providing meaningful jobs, the project continues to contribute to the March 2009 Range-wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine with the goal of collaboratively increasing longleaf pine acreage to 8 million acres and improving 1.5 million acres of existing longleaf habitat over the next 15 years in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

12/1/2011 -- In late October, the Steelville School District in Missouri awarded a fuel bid for its newly installed Forest Service Recovery Act funded biomass boiler to a local chip supplier. A $900,000 grant fully funded the Steelville project, which is anticipated to save the district around $40,000 annually and will also benefit the local forest products industry and local forest health. Steelville was one of six school districts in the state to receive grant funds to install efficient boiler systems that use woody biomass from public and private forest land to heat their facilities. The project administrator, Missouri Department of Conservation, hopes the projects will serve as examples to encourage others to consider implementing systems that will help create a market for low-grade small-diameter trees while providing long-term economic benefits for communities.

11/30/2011 -- On December 3, The Nature Conservancy will host workshops to present plans for a Forest Service Recovery Act funded controlled burn of marshland in the Nags Head Woods Preserve in North Carolina. The North Carolina Forest Service plans to lead the project that will involve 250 acres of marsh with support from local fire departments. Intended to reduce wildland fuel loading in the marshlands, the burn must take place before March 15 when the spring wildfire season that limits available equipment and crews to work controlled burns begins in North Carolina. The project, part of a state-wide effort to conduct fuels reduction treatments in identified wildland fire high-risk areas, will also improve forest health.

11/29/2011 -- On November 17, Forest Service Recovery Act funded Greencorps Chicago - Calumet (GCC) program trainees graduated from the 18-month program that taught them natural resource restoration skills involving on-the-job training that also benefitted publicly owned wetland, prairie, and forested sites in southeast Chicago. Since May 2010, a seven-member GCC program crew, consisting of disadvantaged workers with significant employment barriers, has accomplished noteworthy projects to improve area ecological conditions. For example, workers removed large silver maples from Green Lake Savanna, an Illinois nature preserve, to encourage the return of the endangered Karner blue butterfly; completed invasive species clearing projects at Kickapoo and Eggers woods; and removed over 3,500 pounds of garbage from the Hegewisch Marsh. Trainees also participated in 20 prescribed burns on over 250 acres to reduce invasive species and restore native populations. The training in ecological restoration, natural resource management, forestry, and wildland firefighting will help these individuals, who are also receiving job placement services, find future employment in a competitive job market. Three have already obtained permanent jobs as a result of the program that will continue through mid-January.

11/28/2011 -- In northern Delaware, a Forest Service Recovery Act funded Return-to-Work program has provided a unique opportunity for people to gain life and job skills while greening urban areas. In collaboration with many partners, Wilmington and the Delaware Center for Horticulture (DCH) -- a non-profit organization committed to helping Wilmington government and residents improve the city’s tree canopy; provide horticulture education opportunities for adults and children; and maintain streetscapes and roadsides while supporting improvement of public green spaces throughout the state -- delivered four 13-week sessions that offered on-the-job and classroom training for ex-offenders to help ensure future long-term work opportunities using their new skills. The program has also benefited the environment and community aesthetics -- workers have planted more than 1,500 trees and cared for more than 700 in areas of the city where historically available funding has not sufficiently supported tree maintenance. The project also helped fund DCH staff positions to ensure continued employment for professionals committed to making the city greener. In addition, Recovery Act funding generated a city forester position that will continue with other funds and that has already helped develop a city-wide tree management system and an updated tree ordinance along with wildfire fuel reduction activities and tree-related support at more than 200 sites in the city.

11/25/2011 -- In Arizona, the Prescott Area Wildland-Urban Interface Commission -- an unfunded, unpaid, volunteer, citizen-led commission with city, county, state, and national agency representatives whose focus is addressing the multi-faceted challenges posed by development of wildland areas in the Prescott Basin -- has been using Forest Service Recovery Act funds to reduce wildfire hazard in the Prescott Basin wildland-urban interface near the Prescott National Forest while working to make small-diameter wood commercially useful. The commission recently purchased a wood grinder for which the Yavapai County government will provide use oversight, and a local contractor is seeking efficient ways to cut, bale, dry, and transport chaparral, juniper, and piñon wood that is currently burned after cutting, causing significant smoke distribution. The grinder will allow local agencies to quickly cut up massive amounts of wood pieces after they dry, so the chips can be transported to places that can use the biomass as fuel and other products. The Drake Cement plant north of Prescott hopes to eventually use the wood in place of some of the coal that fuels its operations.

11/23/2011 -- On November 18, the third class of Parks & People’s Green Corps Program trainees graduated in Columbia Heights, District of Columbia. Through the 12-week program funded largely with a Forest Service Recovery Act grant, trainees experience both classroom and hands-on field training in tree identification, planting, and care; community-based land planning and design; invasive species removal and native forest and habitat reclamation; stormwater mitigation; stream restoration, and urban waste wood recovery. The four teams of 37 trainees planted more than 1,000 trees and native plants; removed thousands of invasive weeds; and supported several other landscaping and park development projects within the district. These experiences as well as partnerships with local community volunteers, businesses, and international leaders have become a gateway to jobs, enterprises, and careers for over 100 inner-city residents since the program began in January 2010. More than 150 people have applied for the fourth Green Corps cohort currently in formation that begins in January 2012.

11/22/2011 – A Forest Service Recovery Act funded project that has helped the Land-of-Sky Regional Council (LOSRC) provide funds and technical assistance to 15 North Carolina forest producers to generate jobs and stimulate the economy has been featured in a video. LOSRC is a non-profit, voluntary association of local governments that manages regional projects and provides services to its members in the areas of planning, economic and community development. Last year, LOSRC accepted proposals from forest-based business owners, and those selected were given help to improve marketing skills and production methods. The recently released video highlights the Forest Products Cooperative Marketing Project’s success in creating momentum for the forest products industry in support of western North Carolina’s economy. LOSRC Chairwoman Letta Jean Taylor said, “This project has given us an opportunity to use our renewable forest resources to bring back jobs lost in the economic downturn.” For example, through the project, Appalachian Designs used Recovery Act funds to develop a dry kiln, concentration yard, and certification program for small-diameter wood products. Bark House Supply Company expanded to market and sell home accessories made from sustainably managed, locally sourced and manufactured forest materials. Boggs Collective created a cooperative workshop, woodshed, woodworking school, and virtual gallery to support craftspeople and forest producers.

11/21/2011 – A Forest Service Recovery Act funded grant to restore longleaf pine forests in five Southern states has thus far resulted in nearly 60,000 acres of on-the-ground work accomplishments on state and private lands, along with increased capacity at state nurseries to produce longleaf seedlings and native understory plants. The multi-year project to restore a threatened ecosystem has created jobs for conservation planners, tree planting and forest improvement workers, and nursery workers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The Alabama Forestry Commission’s success in achieving over 8,000 acres of longleaf pine restoration activities contributed to the Alabama National Resources Council’s recent recognition through the Two Chiefs’ Partnership Award given by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Forest Service.

11/18/2011 -- Last month, a Maine school district hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to recognize the beginning of a project to build a 2,472-square-foot biomass plant that will serve three schools. U.S. Forest Service Recovery Act funds are supporting a portion of Regional School Unit 18’s $3.7 million undertaking as one of 22 Maine Forest Service-administered grants that is creating new jobs while promoting wood-to-energy activities to help achieve a national goal of healthy, sustainable forests. When completed in April 2012, the new boiler will burn wood chips to provide hot-water heat that will reduce the district’s heating oil usage by 60,000 gallons per year.

In Rhode Island, a Forest Service Recovery Act funded effort to address a Japanese knotweed infestation in the largest contiguous forest block where the invasive occurs is nearly finished. Since 2010, the Rhode Island Natural History Survey has been using previously underemployed green industry workers to map all knotweed locations, contact all affected landowners, and conduct herbicide treatments on 20,000 acres in and around the state's Arcadia Management Area. Efforts to educate the public through a mail campaign and a heavily attended public meeting contributed to the project’s success, as did a training workshop for area municipal highway crews. The work to eradicate this plant -- considered one of the worst invasive exotics in parts of the eastern United States and whose thick, dense colonies completely crowd out native species -- involved strong collaboration among state, municipal, and non-governmental organizations and private landowners.

11/17/2011 -- In New Jersey, a Forest Service Recovery Act funded project allowing communities across the state to hire local green businesses for community forestry activities is ongoing. Since late 2010, arborists, equipment operators, landscapers, and nursery staff have been among Recovery Act funded workers employed in 140 communities across the state with approved community forestry management plans. In addition to helping communities address priorities and expand current tree care programs, an estimated 100 local businesses have benefitted from increased employment opportunities at a time when the economic downturn has especially affected landscaping and tree care companies. The project is not only providing jobs but is also affording communities significant aesthetic and environmental enhancements.

11/16/2011 -- On November 14, Northern Maine Community College (NMCC) broke ground on a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded project to augment the campus heating system with a 900-kilowatt biomass boiler with the ability to provide heat for nearly 70 percent of the campus buildings’ total square footage. Once the construction project is finished in April 2012, the existing boiler room will be reused to house the new wood pellet boiler. In addition to greatly reducing campus heating costs and replacing more than 65 percent of its fuel oil consumption with a local renewable energy source, the project will provide short-term construction jobs and long-term forestry industry jobs. NMCC President Tim Crowley said the project will boost the regional economy while offering new hands-on learning opportunities to students taking alternative energy courses. The NMCC project is one of 22 Maine Forest Service-administered efforts to convert heating systems from fossil fuel to biomass or wood burning systems across the state by June 2012.

11/15/2011 -- In northern California, Forest Service Recovery Act funded work to refurbish a biomass-fueled power plant to utilize renewable woody biomass as the only fuel source is nearly complete. Designed to serve Amador and Eldorado counties, the 19.5-megawatt Buena Vista Biomass Power (BVBP) has received all necessary permits and engineering and completed a 20-year renewable power purchase agreement with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, with plans to begin commercial operations in December or January. When in service, BVBP will generate enough renewable energy to sustain approximately 16,000 homes and will consume approximately 110,000 tons of woody biomass fuel annually, which is available from federal, tribal, state, and private lands located a reasonable distance from the plant. In addition to creating long-term employment opportunities for power plant staff and forest industry workers, the project will help improve air quality, reduce landfill waste, and provide a stable market for hazardous forest fuels.

11/14/2011 -- An ongoing Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW) Recovery Act funded project has created several high-tech jobs through development of the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project (ILAP). A collaborative effort between several PNW researchers and numerous partners, ILAP is designed to give land managers, planners, and policymakers in Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington tools to help them make decisions that concurrently reduce fuels, improve habitat, benefit rural communities, promote water quality, and mitigate climate change effects. The Farm Foundation selected ILAP as one of eight exemplary case studies for presentation at its March 2011 Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, and Natural Resources Research & Development Roundtable in Washington, DC. The Farm Foundation serves as a catalyst for sound public policy by providing objective information to foster deeper understanding of issues shaping the future for agriculture, food systems, and rural regions. Agency personnel and other federal, state, and non-governmental organizations are highly interested in project work that will continue until fall 2012 in the Pacific Northwest and into 2013 in the Southwest. Project collaborators expect to make data available through Oregon State University’s Western Landscapes Explorer portal to be launched in conjunction with World Forestry Day on March 21, 2012.

11/10/2011 -- Recovery Act funded workers recently completed an extensive trail bridge demolition and replacement project on the Land Between The Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area. The 17 trail bridge replacements have restored safe access to five separate trail systems in Kentucky and Tennessee. Project work that began in late summer 2010 has reduced the LBL’s deferred bridge maintenance by nearly $650,000 while providing work for the Kentucky-based contractor, who hired two manufacturers to produce the trail bridges. The project also created or sustained many jobs in the fiberglass; metal hardware; rock quarry; trucking; and wood products and treatments industries. The improvements have already helped bring several large special events to the LBL, including dog sled trials, a national championship adventure race, a motorized dual sport ride, three mountain bike races, and numerous civil war reenactment groups. Additionally, the project has enhanced safe access for environmental education school groups and thousands of trail users recreating in the great outdoors to further stimulate economic growth to LBL gateway communities.

11/9/2011 -- This month, in Wyoming, Recovery Act funded workers will resume hazardous fuel reduction operations on a project in the wildland-urban interface near the Colorado-Wyoming border on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest’s Laramie Ranger District. Other Recovery Act-funded contractors are continuing work to remove dead and dying ponderosa pine north of Highway 230 in the Miller Lake area. Both efforts are designed to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in communities adjacent to National Forest System land where a landscape-scale mountain pine beetle epidemic has killed millions of acres of trees over the past few years. In addition to protecting people and resources through diminished wildfire risk, the work that will continue all winter will also reduce falling tree hazards to forest visitors.

11/8/2011 -- In Wyoming, contractors have been performing Recovery Act-funded hazardous fuels reduction work to protect over 300 structures in the wildland-urban interface in the Wind River drainage near Dubois on private lands adjacent to and within the Shoshone National Forest. The work has been underway since mid-2010 to address priorities established in the Fremont County Community Wildfire Protection Plan using authorities granted by the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. Work that is helping reduce dead and dying fuels exacerbated by an insect epidemic is also benefiting communities through support to local service industries and making wood products available to the general public through timber sale contracts. Work will continue into 2012.

11/7/2011 -- Forest Service Recovery Act funded workers are finishing a Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation-administered wildfire rehabilitation and restoration project on state and private lands in Mineral, Powell, and Sanders counties. Thus far, local workers have conducted of weed treatments on 45 miles of roads while decommissioning several segments, removing unneeded culverts, and establishing erosion control measures over a nearly 200-acre area. Workers have also seeded wildfire disturbance sites with native grasses. In addition to providing vital work for people whose livelihoods were affected by Montana’s timber industry decline, the activities that will be finished this fall had previously been identified as high priorities in a multi-agency recreation strategy designed to ensure delivery of quality recreation experiences for visitors while protecting natural resources.

11/4/2011 -- In north central New Mexico, the Santa Ana Pueblo has been using a Forest Service Recovery Act grant to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and increase perennial herbaceous cover to improve wildlife habitat on the Pueblo located north of Albuquerque. Since October 2010, Recovery Act funded workers have been using manual chainsaw thinning to reduce tree density followed by lopping and scattering slash to promote perennial herbaceous growth on just over 200 acres. In addition, the project has generated 42 cords of fuel wood that was distributed to community members, which is estimated to have saved needy recipients approximately $6,300. Work will be finished this fall.

11/3/2011 -- Forest Service Recovery Act-funded support to slow expansion of emerald ash borer (EAB) tree mortality will end soon, but much has been accomplished over the multi-year partnership effort underway in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. SLAM (SL.ow A.sh M.ortality) project activities have been providing work for project coordinators, data management specialists, and field and public outreach staff to carry out site-specific activities. Those include: conducting community tree inventories and developing management plans; applying systemic insecticides; attracting or concentrating EAB in girdled trees that are subsequently destroyed before the next generation of adults can emerge; and educating the public about how to recognize and manage EAB. After the Recovery Act funds have been expended in a few weeks, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry forest health funds will continue to support the collaborative effort that includes the Forest Service, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and several state entities in Michigan. Recovery Act work outcomes will be available in 2012, but full results will not be obtainable until all work is done late in 2013.

11/2/2011 -- In South Carolina, Forest Service Recovery Act-funded workers recently completed a two-year project to protect trees from the exotic insect pest hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), which was first detected in the state in 2001 and has since been discovered in all counties with hemlock trees. The South Carolina Forestry Commission administered project has included chemical control work and the release of HWA predatory beetles to help save thousands of trees in South Carolina’s pristine mountains where the loss of hemlocks due to this invasive insect has been devastating to forested and riparian ecosystems. Providing protection from erosion along stream banks and food and shelter for wildlife, hemlock is also valued as an ornamental and as an important lumber source. Beginning in April 2010, crews applied chemicals to designated high priority areas such as headwater streams, hiking trails, and administration and camping sites on state-owned lands in Greenville, Oconee, and Pickens counties. Workers treated more than 20,000 trees over the life of the project to help protect ecosystems and indirectly support the state’s tourism economy.

11/1/2011 -- In Arizona, Recovery Act funded workers have been treating thousands of acres under the White Mountain Stewardship Contract. It’s the first large 10-year stewardship contract in the nation and it emphasizes large-scale forest restoration activities to improve forest health, enhance rural development, and utilize previously unmarketable small-diameter trees. Since 2010 local contractors have removed nearly 250,000 tons of biomass that is being used to fuel a wood-burning electrical power plant or will be used to produce residential wood pellets. In addition to providing jobs in the woods, the project on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is strengthening the local forest products industry and contributing to efforts to promote renewable energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Project work is planned for completion this coming winter if weather conditions permit.

10/31/2011 -- Federal, state, and local officials in Missouri are anticipating multiple benefits from six Forest Service Recovery Act funded Fuels for Schools projects that are now becoming operational. In addition to reducing utility costs at Perry County, Gainesville, Mountain View-Birch Tree, Eminence, Southern Reynolds County, and Steelville schools, the project to convert aging heating plants to woody-biomass systems will also help communities, the environment, and the forest products industry. For example, officials estimate the schools will save $22,000 to $41,000 each annually in heating costs. New local jobs are expected as demand increases for production and delivery of woody biomass. Because the American-made heating plants have electrostatic precipitators that will reduce particulate emissions by 90 percent, the installations will support healthier air quality, and some even anticipate improved school attendance and less illness will result from the systems’ enhanced ventilation and air quality. “We’ll see the new technology help reduce dependence on fossil fuels reduce energy costs create or retain jobs and support healthy forests and the state’s forest industry,” said Missouri Department of Conservation Forest Management Chief John Tuttle, whose office awarded the funds last fall in cooperation with the Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry program.

10/28/2011 -- In Montana, Flathead National Forest officials announced the West-side Hungry Horse Reservoir Road would reopen at noon today. The Recovery Act funded 11-mile repaving and resurfacing project was part of a larger project that enhanced 100 miles of road around the popular Hungry Horse Reservoir and reduced impacts to endangered and sensitive species and improved watershed health by decommissioning roads, treating noxious weeds, and improving stream crossings that block fish passage. Forest Supervisor Chip Weber said work accomplished with Recovery Act funding has been more than the forest would have been able to do in 25 years with its own resources. In addition to construction jobs, the project brought indirect economic benefits through the large quantities of asphalt, aggregate, and other materials purchased from local suppliers and ongoing tourism-generated income to local businesses for lodging, travel supplies, and other services.

10/27/2011 -- In Massachusetts, the City of Worcester’s use of Forest Service Recovery Act funding to help bring an Asian long horn beetle infestation under control will now allow the city to focus on reforestation. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) administered grant has supported tree removal and replacement along with maintenance of newly planted trees. In 2010, DCR began replanting trees to replace the nearly 30,000 that have been cut down and removed from Worcester and surrounding towns to mitigate the beetle’s effects since the epidemic began in 2008. Workers will continue to plant trees this fall and again in spring 2012 that will contribute to energy conservation and improved water and air quality and community aesthetics.

10/26/2011 -- In New Mexico, most of the Forest Service Recovery Act-funded works to re-engineer the Mescalero Apache Tribe's sawmill to more efficiently process small-diameter material is complete and testing to bring the mill up to full production is underway. The tribe has hired a consulting firm to research biomass energy utilization permitting processes and related development steps. This will further support stable long-term local employment opportunities while addressing ways to effectively utilize biomass that silvicultural treatments and hazardous fuels reduction activities are generating in the wildland-urban interface on National Forest System and Tribal lands near Ruidoso.

10/25/2011 -- In Montana, on the Kootenai National Forest, Recovery Act-funded workers have been supporting public safety while enhancing area watersheds and improving fisheries in a series of road restoration projects that began in mid-2010. On the Libby and Three Rivers Ranger Districts, local contractors began placing new aggregate surfacing on several roads and replacing under-sized major culverts with bridges or bottomless arch pipes this summer and plan to finish work soon. Similar work took place in 2010, including replacing the asphalt in a popular campground on the Rexford Ranger District. In addition to bringing work to nearby communities, the project has supported local supply businesses while helping reduce deferred maintenance and ensuring ongoing resource protection by reducing stream sedimentation.

A ribbon-cutting event to commemorate the new Camino Real Ranger Station on the Carson National Forest has been held. Recovery Act funds supported much of the effort to build the 6,500-square-foot energy-efficient structure in Penasco, New Mexico. Over 580 Job Corps program students, representing all 28 USDA Forest Service-managed centers across the nation, took part in the construction project that offered valuable job training opportunities while helping reduce the Forest Service’s environmental footprint and deferred maintenance backlog.

10/24/2011 -- In Ohio, Forest Service Recovery Act-funded workers have been helping the Metropolitan Parks District of the Toledo Area (Metroparks) combat the effects of an emerald ash borer (EAB) epidemic that has killed thousands of trees in Toledo. The borer has killed tens of millions of trees across the Midwest and Northeast, and it threatens billions across North America in the coming decades. Ash trees, which can grow to be 60 feet in height, become very brittle after being infested. Since early 2010 Metroparks staff and contractors have removed over 3,000 dead or dying ash trees along roads and trails; treated or removed invasive plants on over 230 acres; and planted thousands of new native trees. In addition, monitoring of EAB effects, dead ash trees themselves, invasive plants, and restoration plantings has provided useful information for Metroparks and Forest Service researchers. Educational signage for park visitors has accompanied this work. Besides providing jobs, the project is contributing to public safety while restoring damaged ecosystems. Project work is ongoing, with contracts underway for the final phases of hazard tree removal this fall and winter, and most activity should be finished by spring 2012.

10/21/2011 -- In western New Mexico, on the Cibola National Forest and Grasslands, Recovery Act-funded workers are nearly finished accomplishing a comprehensive thinning and restoration project on the Mt. Taylor Ranger District. Work on 3,640 acres that began in spring 2010 to restore watersheds to healthy conditions, reduce the danger of uncharacteristic wildfires, provide much-needed firewood to area residents, and create or improve wildlife habitat has also benefitted local economies. The Forest Service awarded two contracts to minority- or veteran-owned companies. Businesses that had only been operating for a couple of years were among those receiving six other contracts. Additionally, after project work got underway, the contractors began to network, which resulted in providing work and/or materials for other local companies, such as a new sawmill. "The Recovery Act project kept my crew of 18 employees working in a time when the type of work we do significantly declined," said Brent Racher, owner of Restoration Solutions, a local logging contractor.

10/20/2011 -- In Wyoming, on the Bighorn National Forest, Recovery Act-funded workers are building a new trailhead and campground with associated spurs, tables, fire rings, restrooms, trash facilities, informational kiosks, and day-use parking as well as horse amenities, including corrals, hitch racks, and feed bunks. In addition to increasing recreation use capacity, addressing mixed-use conflicts, providing for overnight camping, and bringing amenities up to Forest Service standards, project work will reduce or eliminate ongoing resource damage by moving the trailhead location out of wetlands. In August 2010 contractors began surveying, staking, and performing major earthwork until winter shutdown in early November 2010. Workers resumed activities in early June and will finish the project soon. The Montana-based contractor is buying construction materials locally and utilizing lodging, restaurants, and supermarkets to house and feed employees to benefit nearby communities. The Forest Service has received many positive comments since work began.

10/19/2011 – Forest Service officials have hosted an open house to commemorate the recently completed combined Deschutes National Forest Headquarters and Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District office at the Bend Pine Administrative Site in northeast Bend. In addition to a dedication and ribbon cutting, the three-hour event included displays, tours, and a puppet show. Recovery Act funds supported most of the construction costs that brought work to a local contractor who said at the time of the award in June 2010, “We are going to be able to put more of our people back to work. It is going to be a great boost to our local construction trades people, subcontractors, and suppliers.” Not only will the new office provide one-stop access to forest personnel and services, but the building will save the Forest Service $1 million a year in lease costs. In addition, the building’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification with a wood burning heating system, electric car chargers, and other green features will reduce energy costs. Employees will begin working out of the building in mid-November.

10/18/2011 -- In California, Recovery Act-funded workers are helping to improve overall forest health conditions and vegetative diversity while reducing the threat of large-scale, high-intensity wildfires on Plumas National Forest land adjacent to communities. The Mt. Hough Empire Stewardship Project is allowing for a combination of treatments within a footprint between other large-scale treatment types to tie together a defensible fuel profile zone – an area where vegetation has been reduced to levels where fire intensity and rate of spread will decrease and allow for safer firefighter access. Local contractors began work last winter to masticate 197 acres over multiple treatment blocks and accomplish hand thinning and piling of small-diameter trees and brush along corridors on 88 acres, approximately one-half of which has been accomplished thus far. In thinning operations on 45 acres, workers have mechanically harvested over 1,200 tons of small-diameter trees, which have been chipped and utilized as biomass to produce energy. Work will begin again as the logging season winds down. Contractors also performed road maintenance and improvements on a few miles of National Forest System roads and trails to improve recreational and public safety access while also enhancing water quality.

10/17/2011 -- Three northeastern Minnesota counties have been using Forest Service Recovery Act funds to reduce wildland fire risk in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) through recommended activities in previously completed community wildfire protection plans. In Cook, Lake, and St. Louis counties, contractors have been busy helping homeowner associations improve defensible space on private and common property within subdivisions. In Cook County, a local contractor has completed about half of planned hazardous fuels reduction work on 120 acres of common property in the Tait Lake area, hiring additional employees to help with the project. The Fernberg Corridor/Kawishiwi Triangle in Lake County has been the site of work to reduce heavy fuel loading caused by spruce budworm-damaged balsam fir in an area dense with residences and multiple resorts and outfitting businesses. Not only have multiple landowners improved their properties’ defensible space, but one association held a Chipper Days to involve homeowners in cutting and chipping vegetation along roadways to improve access. In St. Louis County, 13 contractors, including one new small business, have helped homeowners clear trees and brush in WUI areas identified as high priorities for fuels reduction. The Burntside Ridge Trail Road Association reported work took place on 20 properties covering over 175 acres. In addition to bringing jobs, the projects have raised wildland fire danger awareness, prompting communities to pursue fuels reduction efforts on other private land.

10/14/2011 -- Late last month, Recovery Act-funded workers began treating 1,000 acres of western juniper to improve wildlife habitat on the Modoc National Forest in northern California. The project on the Doublehead Ranger District’s Carr Allotment borders the Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuge and contains critical sage grouse habitat. Contractors are conducting mechanical and hand thinning to reduce vegetation that is displacing native grasses, forbs, and shrubs needed by the greater sage grouse, a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The harvested sawlogs are being supplied to REACH, Inc., a Klamath Falls, Oregon, non-profit organization with a vocational rehabilitation program that trains workers in the wood products industry. Besides providing jobs, the Carr Allotment Project will complement U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service projects also designed to increase sage grouse habitat on adjacent private lands within the project area. Project work will continue into early 2013.

10/13/2011 -- The State of Hawaii is using a Forest Service Recovery Act grant to implement a suite of hazardous fuel reduction projects throughout the state. Work has been underway since early 2010 to plan and carry out projects on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu. One of the projects, the Waianae Kai Forest Reserve Project on Oahu, is addressing hazardous fuels in three separate but synergistic phases. In addition to maintaining an existing fuel break, the project also includes creating a grazed fuel break along the perimeter of the reserve by utilizing cattle from a neighboring ranch, after which workers will plant fire-resistant trees and shrubs to enhance overall effectiveness in the grazed and existing fuel breaks. This last phase will be conducted in cooperation with the University of Hawai'i at Manoa to augment current research concerning hazardous fuels in the reserve. In addition to reducing wildland fire risk on the islands, the project is bringing meaningful work to offset job losses caused by the state’s vulnerable tourism industry. All project work should be finished by next September.

10/12/2011 -- The Rhode Island Tree Council (RITree), a non-profit group dedicated to improving Rhode Island’s tree resources, reported that several green team members trained through a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded project have moved on to professional long-term positions because of experience gained through work to assess communities’ existing forestry and plan for future growth. Beginning in April 2010, workers conducted a forestry sustainability project designed to help six Rhode Island communities prepare to deploy manpower and equipment efficiently and cost-effectively to mitigate expensive storm-tree damage and quickly recover post-storm mitigation costs from emergency funding sources because proper documentation exists. In addition to pre-storm damage assessment and pest/disease surveys, the crew also completed five planting projects, several community inventory reports, and six PowerPoint slide shows for community distribution. According John Campanini, RITree project supervisor, the Recovery Act grant definitely helped young people learn good employment skills. In addition to benefitting local economies by using vendors and consultants to execute work around the state, the 18-month-long project also helped enhance the state’s environmental health.

10/11/2011 -- In Arizona, the second most visited location on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has been undergoing much-needed Recovery Act-funded surface renovation work. Five local contractors have been working in the Big Lake Recreation Area to patch, seal, and restripe pavement and resurface aggregate campground roadways and spurs and apply soil stabilizer to meet accessibility requirements. Work that has taken place on National Forest System Road 8115; roads in Rainbow, Brookchar, Cutthroat, and Grayling campgrounds; and parking lots and access roads at South Cove, Big Lake, and Marina boat launches will be finished by the end of the month. One contractor expressed his gratitude for receiving a delivery order for a portion of the work, stating, "I was just starting the paperwork to lay off all of my employees. I had been able to fund them through the winter, but there just was not any more work and I could not keep them on any longer. With this job I was able to keep them employed." In addition to providing meaningful work in Apache County, one of the most economically depressed counties in Arizona, the completed project will reduce annual maintenance costs and enhance visitors’ experiences in this popular area.

10/7/2011 -- In New Mexico, a Forest Service Recovery Act grant is helping the Santa Clara Pueblo implement a community wildfire protection plan that identified several treatment areas on about 5,000 acres in desperate need of hazardous fuel reduction and riparian restoration. The pueblo is a member of the Eight Northern Pueblos, and the people are from the Tewa ethnic group of Native Americans who speak the Tewa language. Using the New Mexico State Forestry-administered grant, tribal employees have cleared approximately 1,500 acres within the tribal boundaries of the Rio Grande bosque area (gallery forest found along the riparian flood plains of stream and river banks in the southwestern United States) since April 2010 to eliminate invasive species hindering the growth of native riparian vegetation. Workers removed trees; loped, scattered, and piled brush for burning or mulching on site; and sprayed with herbicide throughout the project area. Employees are also planting native trees. Because the 156,500-acre Las Conchas fire burned portions of the remaining 3,500 acres to be treated in the Santa Clara Creek headwaters and Santa Clara Canyon this summer, the pueblo is in the process of preparing an assessment of the burned areas and compiling data to request a modification for a portion of the remaining grant funds be used towards emergency stabilization treatments. Besides providing employment to tribal members, the project will improve riparian areas and reduce hazardous fuels around homes. Work should be completed by late 2013.

10/6/2011 -- In New York State, a Forest Service Recovery Act grant is providing jobs and helping fight giant hogweed an invasive whose sap can cause blister burns and blindness. Recovery Act-funded multi-year project efforts to detect, identify, and eradicate the noxious weed began in December 2009. The program’s success involves citizen cooperation to report suspected hogweed infestations to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and permit workers to perform eradication measures. Small field crews cut through the roots of the plants and/or remove and bag the flower or seed heads if the infestation area is under 400 plants, using herbicide to address larger infestation areas. Thus far in 2011, seasonal crews have visited over 1,100 sites, controlling many of the sites manually and others with herbicide. Workers are also revisiting sites to help determine previous treatment success; over 170 previously treated sites revealed no plants this season. Public interest in the program is high. Since January the state’s giant hogweed Web site has received over 95,000 visits, and state forest health staff have taken part in over 60 newspaper, radio, and television interviews and dispensed hundreds of brochures and control documents to the public. So far this year the contact center has received over 1,800 calls and nearly 800 emails. State program managers are hoping further funding will enable the program to continue beyond the next few months, when Recovery Act funds will be exhausted.

10/5/2011 -- In Montana, Forest Service Recovery Act funds have supported forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction work in several counties where the decline in the state’s timber industry has contributed to high unemployment levels. With Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation oversight, project activities have included priorities outlined in community wildfire protection plans to mitigate the risk of severe fire by reducing hazardous fuels, especially in the wildland-urban interface. The work also seeks to restore forest resiliency to insects and disease and create forest products, including biomass, for area programs. In Flathead County for example, forest workers and specialists have treated 584 acres to reduce the risk of wildfire by creating strategic fuel breaks near communities and engaging landowners to treat areas on their property. The Lake County Office of Emergency Management and the Swan Ecosystem Center have been partners in the effort to employ workers on 38 hazardous fuels and restoration projects where 610 acres have thus far been treated. In Sanders County, workers have completed 1,325 acres of hazardous fuels and forest restoration treatments on ten projects. Much of the work designed to restore the health and resiliency of forested lands and mitigate the hazardous fuels buildup exacerbated by mountain pine beetle outbreaks are complete, and all work should be finished this fall or winter.

10/4/2011 -- In Arizona, a Recovery Act-funded hazardous fuels reduction project underway since July 2010 on over 1,200 acres of high priority wildland-urban interface areas on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest will be finished in late November. Near the community of Vernon, workers have been using chainsaws to thin ponderosa pine and juniper species up to nine inches in diameter, then, when conditions are appropriate, handpiling the slash for burning. Besides providing local jobs and reducing wildland fire hazard, the project to create more open tree stands resembling pre-settlement forest conditions is enhancing forest health by increasing tree vigor and improving wildlife habitat through a better variety of vegetation. Not only has the ongoing work contributed to a healthier local economy but a healthier forest can help avoid dangerous and costly wildfires in the future.

10/3/2011 -- In Minnesota, 48 Conservation Corps Minnesota (CCM) crew members worked to improve Superior National Forest trails under a Recovery Act-funded seasonal program that began in summer 2009 and will continue through next summer. From June through August, CCM crew members cleared and maintained more than 120 miles of ATV, cross-country skiing, interpretive, hiking, portage, and snowmobiling trails, including completing over 7,600 feet of treadwork; installing 3,000 feet of boardwalk; and building over 150 steps; 65 drainage features, and seven bridges. Besides providing jobs and natural resource training for youth in economically depressed counties, the project is improving soil and water resource conditions and enhancing recreational experiences for forest visitors, who also support local economies.

9/30/2011 -- In late October, six schools in southern Missouri will host ribbon cutting ceremonies to commemorate completion of new Forest Service Recovery Act-funded biomass thermal energy heating systems. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently announced the celebrations scheduled at each school between October 24 and October 27. The boiler installation projects themselves created jobs, and the change from heating with fossil fuels to woody biomass will support additional jobs in the timber industry while saving the schools money by reducing heating costs. “As these schools operate their boiler systems, they’ll use woody biomass from local and private forest land to heat their facilities. We’ll see the new technology help reduce dependence on fossil fuels, reduce energy costs, create or retain jobs, and support healthy forests and the state’s forest industry,” said MDC Forest Management Chief John Tuttle, whose office awarded the funds last fall in cooperation with the Forest Service’s State & Private Forestry program.

9/29/2011 -- In Philadelphia, a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded arboriculture training program is helping young trainees learn basic tree care, nursery, and natural resource restoration skills while revitalizing urban areas. This past spring, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society recruited graduates of Philadelphia’s Youth Environmental Stewardship and Teens 4 Good programs and current seasonal maintenance staff for the four-month program. Since summer, trainees have been helping ensure the survivability of newly planted trees at Philadelphia’s recreation centers. Workers have been removing dead and dying trees to enhance public safety along with invasive exotic species that threaten forest health. In additional to offering individuals a paid opportunity to learn vital skills that will help qualify them for other jobs, the program is contributing to revitalizing the inner city to make it a safer, more desirable place to live, which has a cascading benefit in terms of stronger neighborhoods and improved property values.

9/28/2011 -- In Washington, Idaho, and Montana, Forest Service Recovery Act-funded studies concerning how pyrolysis* produces potentially useful new forest products called bio-oil and bio-char are continuing. Researchers at the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station, the University of Montana, the University of Idaho, Washington State University, and other partners have published test results for a proto-type pyrolysis reactor that creates the charcoal-like bio-char and also creates bio-oil and synthetic gas as the reactor processes biomass from forest restoration projects. Another team has also tested bio-char for applications as a soilless nursery media for growing plants. More research results are expected sometime this fall. Besides providing research and development jobs, this important project involving pyrolysis could facilitate new uses and markets for forest products to help reduce national dependence on foreign oil, support new industries in rural areas, and reduce greenhouse gases.
*Pyrolysis is the heating of an organic material, such as biomass, in the absence of oxygen. Because no oxygen is present, the material does not combust, but the chemical compounds (i.e. cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin) that make up that material thermally decompose into combustible gases and charcoal. Most of these combustible gases can be condensed into a combustible liquid, called bio-oil, though there are some permanent gases (CO¬2, CO, H2, light hydrocarbons). Thus, pyrolysis of biomass produces three products: one liquid: bio-oil; one solid: bio-char; and one gaseous: syngas.

9/27/2011 -- In northern Idaho’s pristine Silver Valley, Forest Service Recovery Act-funded hazardous fuel reduction work to protect communities and improve forest health will be finished this fall. Local timber industry and county employees facing layoffs prior to the Recovery Act have been at work to reduce the threat of insect and disease epidemics and wildland fire risk to adjacent communities by thinning and pruning overstocked tree stands. Acting on the need for hazardous fuel reduction treatments outlined in the Shoshone County Wildfire Protection Plan, several entities, including project administrator Idaho Department of Lands, collaborated to identify and prioritize treatment areas. Thus far workers have assessed nearly 4,000 acres and treated just over 900 acres in this effort which has brought employment to administrators, foresters, geographic information system specialists, heavy equipment operators, log truck drivers, and thinning crews.

9/26/2011 -- Before the end of the month, Boulder County commissioners in Colorado expect to finalize a county-wide community wildfire protection plan (CWPP) outlining recommendations for policies, programs, and projects to mitigate the risk from future wildfires in this topographically diverse county. The Fourmile Canyon Fire flared here a year ago and burned 169 homes and more than 6,000 acres. In February 2010 the county used a Forest Service Recovery Act sub-grant from the Colorado State Forest Service to hire a CWPP planner. The planner has worked extensively with federal, state, county, and municipal representatives as well as a citizen advisory group to develop an approach that prioritizes hazardous fuel reduction treatments to protect at-risk communities and outlines plans to increase wildfire mitigation awareness. The 18-month effort has seen extensive public involvement, including community meetings and a public hearing held earlier this month to review the plan. The project also involved help from University of Colorado interns who produced educational wildfire mitigation videos for the county’s CWPP Website.

9/23/2011 -- In California, a Forest Service State and Private Forestry Recovery Act grant to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the state agency with the overall mandate to manage the noxious weed and invasive plant program, is helping retain and create jobs while tackling the ongoing challenge of combating noxious weeds. Recovery Act-funded work throughout the state in managing invasive plants associated with forested lands has been ongoing since late 2009. CDFA sub-granted funds to approximately 40 entities, including counties, local weed management areas, resource conservation districts, and state and non-profit agencies. Work that has involved public education, prevention, surveys, mapping, control activities, and monitoring should be finished by December. Since the grant began, workers have treated over 3,500 acres and surveyed over 150,000 acres. In addition to hiring seasonal help to conduct control work and surveys, sub-grantees have been able to maintain many positions that would have been lost.

9/22/2011 -- In Alabama, Forest Service Recovery Act-funded cogongrass*control efforts begun in fall 2009 are continuing, bringing jobs for workers hired to identify, locate, and treat this federally listed invasive weed. Recently the Alabama Forestry Commission Cogongrass Task Force announced that this season’s herbicide application that began in mid-July will continue until the first frost. Meanwhile, other contractors are still working with private landowners to identify infestations for future treatments. Thus far Recovery Act funding has supported the identification of nearly 22,000 cogongrass sites in 40 counties, and about half of those sites have been selected to receive simultaneous-year treatments using Recovery Act funds. Workers will continue to identify additional sites until the work ends in September 2012, and the task force is hoping further funding will enable the program to continue beyond next year.
*Originally carried to Alabama in packing material from Japan in 1911, cogongrass produces an exorbitant amount of heat when burned, which can kill trees. Currently repeated chemical application is the most effective approach to controlling and eradicating this invasive that has the potential of turning a dynamic and diverse ecosystem into an unsuitable and unproductive monoculture.

9/21/2011 -- In South Dakota, a Recovery Act-funded contractor is conducting timber stand improvement and hazardous fuels reduction work on the Northern Hills Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest. Workers are using chainsaws to thin dense stands of smaller trees and hand-piling slash to create fuel breaks adjacent to private homes and property. The 851-acre project that began in 2010 will continue through next September. The work is designed to reduce the potential of a wildfire reaching homes adjacent to the forest and it will also provide strategic locations to help firefighters contain future wildfires. The work which is helping the local contractor keep several workers employed will also improve timber stand characteristics through selectively thinning the understory to leave the largest, healthiest trees.

Since mid-2009, Forest Service Recovery Act work has been supporting the Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) mission to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on opportunities to develop natural resource work and leadership skills. SCA workers across the nation have been improving outdoor recreational opportunities, removing invasive species, protecting natural resources, and contributing to hazardous fuel reduction efforts through 23 Forest Service Recovery Act projects.

9/20/2011 -- In California, near the Oregon border, the Blue Ledge mine, site of a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded multi-year cleanup operation, has been listed as a U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site. On September 15, EPA announced the decision that will now qualify the long-abandoned copper and zinc mine high in the Applegate River drainage for additional cleanup funding. In summer 2010, Recovery Act-funded workers began removing and containing toxic surface mine wastes into an on-site repository to mitigate the threat of contaminant migration from surface waste at the mine into Joe Creek and its downstream reaches. The four piles from underground workings totaled 66,500 cubic yards and covered 12 acres that were then distributed over about 50 acres. Workers recently finished that phase of the cleanup effort which will be followed by surface site reclamation this fall with operations, maintenance, and monitoring until spring 2015. The mine site, located on private land within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, is the source of copper, zinc, arsenic, lead, and cadmium that are in levels demonstrated to be toxic to the aquatic environment and potentially harmful to humans. Site investigations show that the mine has contaminated surface waters, stream sediments, riparian soil, and groundwater.

9/19/2011 -- In New Mexico, Recovery Act–funded workers finished improving a compromised fish barrier that protects threatened Gila trout in Black Canyon on the Gila National Forest. Work to repair the existing gabion* structure that ensures that non-native trout that prey upon, compete with, and hybridize with Gila trout remain downstream began in April. The site’s remote location required the contractor to mix nearly 250 cubic yards of concrete on site to repair damage that fast moving water during high flows had caused by creating a plunge pool under the barrier. This important project created meaningful work while saving the investment in the existing barrier. The newly armored structure is now expected to have a longer successful lifespan to protect valuable Gila trout habitat and a large wetland/riparian area upstream of the barrier, both of which would have been lost had the structure failed.
*In civil engineering a gabion wall is made of rectangular baskets fabricated of thick galvanized wire, which are filled with stone and stacked on one another, usually in tiers that step back with the slope rather than vertically. Gabions are also used as fish barriers on small streams.

9/16/2011 -- On September 21, Forest Service officials will host an open house celebrating the completion of a project that significantly improved the energy efficiency of the Northern Research Station’s (NRS) facility in Hamden, Connecticut, while bringing work to Connecticut-based contractors. Recovery Act funds supported the “greening” of the 45-year-old building that included the addition of a solar array that now provides some of the building’s electrical needs, as well as new energy-efficient windows and an insulated eastern white cedar façade. Last October, USDA Natural Recourses Conservation Service and Southwest Conservation District staff moved into empty space on the second floor of the Hamden main building after the renovations. “We have increased the occupancy rate for the building; increased the services included with the space; saved the government over $28,000 a year in space leasing costs; and reduced the Forest Service research dollars going into maintaining the facilities,” said Melody Keena, an NRS research entomologist. Open house plans include agency presentations throughout the day followed by a celebration ceremony with invited dignitaries and building tours.

9/15/2011 -- Last month in Sanibel, Florida, contractors finished planting over 475 trees through a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded pine flatwoods restoration effort at Paulsen Preserve and Pond Apple Park. Over the past year the City of Sanibel hired local workers to plant native South Florida slash pine to help re-establish critical American bald eagle canopy-nesting sites, which were mostly destroyed in 2004’s Hurricane Charley. Arborists also planted other native shade trees at Pond Apple Park. "The motivation behind this project was to establish pine flatwoods at two city parks to provide critical wildlife habitat and to attract visitors to the parks," said James Evans, environmental biologist for the City of Sanibel's Department of Natural Resources. "We also hoped to stimulate the local economy by providing work for local contractors using a competitive bid process. The timing for this was just right." The project was part of a larger Florida Forest Service-administered grant to help communities reforest public areas and promote economic activity in the nursery and landscaping sectors.

9/14/2011 -- In South Dakota, Recovery Act-funded work to restore Friendship Tower on the Black Hills National Forest for public use is nearly complete. Last summer, Box Elder Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center students and a stone mason specializing in historical restoration worked to repair the tower’s original rock masonry and to build a supporting foundation. This past June, contractors built a roof and internal circular stair guardrails. Job Corps program students are currently constructing exterior guardrails and should finish the work in the next few weeks. In 1919, Black Hills National Forest Supervisor Seth Bullock built the tower, also known as Mount Roosevelt, in honor of his friend President Theodore Roosevelt. This project to repair a popular historical monument has provided on-the-job training and experience for several Job Corps program students as well as benefiting local suppliers, equipment rental businesses, and contractors.

9/13/2011 -- In Maine, the Carrabec School District is finishing installation of nine pellet-burning boilers in four school buildings. The work is designed to reduce the district’s heating oil use by more than 52,000 gallons annually. The district used $250,000 in Forest Service Recovery Act funds to support the $500,000 project that should save the district over $70,000 in the first year. By heating with wood pellets, a renewable resource, the project will also support Maine’s forest industry. On September 7, School District Superintendent Ken Coville led representatives from U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe’s office, the Forest Service Northeastern Area, and the Maine State Forest Service on a tour of the new biomass-burning units at Carrabec High School; Carrabec Community School; Solon Elementary School; and Garrett Schenck Elementary School. These schools serve five communities in Sommerset County, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. The Carrabec project is one of 22 Maine Forest Service-administered grants that are creating new jobs while promoting wood-to-energy activities to help achieve a national goal of healthy, sustainable forests.

9/12/2011 -- In late August, a local tree service company removed or pruned approximately 65 dead or otherwise dangerous trees along a heavily traveled road near an elementary school in Holmdel, New Jersey. The Forest Service Recovery Act-funded work to address the hazards, many of which involved trees entangled in power lines, took place just days before Hurricane Irene swept through the state on August 28. The local Shade Tree Committee obtained a Forest Service Recovery Act grant from the New Jersey Forest Service to complete work that contributes to public safety while providing forestry jobs in tough economic times.

Forest Service employees and partners are in the process of assessing resource damage as a result of Hurricane Irene’s impact in the Eastern and Southern regions to Recovery Act-funded projects. Assessments thus far show significant damage to some projects on the Green Mountain (Vermont) and White Mountain (New Hampshire) national forests. Most of the entire Green Mountain National Forest is closed in the interest of public safety until workers can clear debris and ensure structural integrity of its roads, bridges, dams, trails, and recreational facilities. In North Carolina, significant damage occurred in some areas while Puerto Rico is reporting minor damage to recreation improvements and sediment-filled dams. Last month’s destruction also includes downed trees and severe erosion on newly renovated roads and recreation trails; wind-and rain-ravaged facilities such as campsites, picnic shelters, and restrooms; and compromised water and sewer systems.

9/9/2011 -- The State of California is using a Forest Service Recovery Act grant to fund the work of University of California researchers in Riverside to assess a large goldspotted oak borer infestation that has killed tens of thousands of oak trees in San Diego County. The goldspotted oak borer is native to Arizona but not to California. The half-inch-long beetle attacks mature oaks. Researchers are working to identify where the infestation began, how it is spreading, and what trees might be resistant. So far, results point to transportation of infested oak firewood as the source. Researchers believe wood that is bark-free or that has been dried and cured for a year is generally safe to transport and suggest this change in firewood handling would not jeopardize the firewood industry. Not only is Recovery Act funding supporting jobs for this important research but the findings may save millions of acres of oak woodlands and tree removal costs for municipalities and private landowners. The research project that began last summer is expected to end in summer 2013.

9/8/2011 -- In California, the Recovery Act-funded Angeles National Forest Supervisor’s Office building project that began last fall is well underway. Replacement of the existing sub-standard building, which was comprised of several modular units, will create an efficient space for some 100 office staff. In addition the office’s carbon footprint will be reduced through better insulation, natural lighting, and ventilation to achieve at least a silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating. The project also includes an atrium and a training center that will be available to local, county, and federal fire personnel. A California contractor is overseeing the multi-million dollar project that is bringing employment to many local workers. The project is expected to be finished in summer 2012.

9/7/2011 -- A Forest Service Recovery Act grant to the State of South Dakota has been providing jobs to logging contractors while reducing wildfire risk to the City of Spearfish in the wildland-urban interface -- the area where houses meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland vegetation. Last October, loggers began removing merchantable saw timber on state lands bordering the northern edge of the Black Hills National Forest. Lumber mills in Spearfish and Hulett, Wyoming received the harvested trees. The 250-acre project also involved removing small-diameter trees from densely forested areas to reduce fuel accumulation and reduce the risk of large, intense wildfires that damage resources and endanger people. Workers chipped approximately 30 piles of slash and removed the material from the site. This coming winter, workers will burn remaining piles with plans to finish by spring of 2012. In addition to supporting the timber industry, the project is also reducing the risk that fast moving wildfires could pose in the future to Spearfish.

9/6/2011 -- In Colorado, Denver Mountain Parks (DMP) is creating jobs, restoring forest health, and reducing hazardous fuels with a Forest Service Recovery Act grant on approximately 190 acres in three parks just west of Denver. DMP used the money from a Colorado Forest Service-administered grant to hire a forester and a local contractor. Project work that began in late October 2010 is expected to be completed in a few weeks. The forester has been responsible for updating and writing forest management plans and administering the forest health and restoration work in the three locations while the contractor’s employees have been cutting trees and chipping small biomass. The forest restoration projects are focusing on thinning excess trees and removing diseased ones at Genesee and Lookout Mountain parks. DMP is also encouraging aspen growth by removing some pine trees in the undeveloped Pence Mountain Park. Park visitors and Interstate 70 travelers are also benefiting from the multi-faceted project.

9/2/2011 -- In Washington state, Recovery Act-funded work is underway to improve visitors’ outdoor recreation experiences by replacing outdated restrooms and repairing and improving trail conditions. Last year contractors installed a pre-fabricated restroom at the Lena Lake trailhead on the Olympic National Forest, where access to the largest backcountry lake on the Olympic Peninsula begins. Workers finished a similar installation at the Pioneer’s Path trailhead just a few weeks ago. Before the end of September three additional installations are planned at Upper Dungeness, Mt. Townsend, and Mt. Ellinor trailheads as soon as materials arrive. Recovery Act-funded restroom upgrades are also underway on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The prefabricated structures have a woodsy, primitive appearance and are designed to simplify ongoing maintenance. Building the new facilities has brought employment to fabricators as well as the installers.

8/31/2011 -- The Forest Service is using Recovery Act funds to sponsor partnerships among premier scientists and natural resource professionals from agencies and universities in the Pacific Northwest to address issues critical to the management of Pacific salmonids and their habitats. Salmonid species on the west coast of the United States have experienced dramatic declines during the past several decades as a result of human-induced and natural factors. Grant managers at the Pacific Northwest Research Station reported that, as of July, several individuals have been employed to collect and analyze data for studies. The project includes: assessment of watersheds in southeast Alaska and the interior Columbia River basin that are vulnerable to climate change; identifying key places for habitat restoration; understanding climate change and fire effects on watershed and fish habitat; mapping fish habitat in southwest Oregon and northwest California; and developing a stream chemistry tool for establishing water quality regulations for timber harvest. The Recovery Act-funded project work will continue through 2012, and information yielded by this project will also open the door to future jobs related to: fish habitat and riparian restoration; forest and fisheries management; forest fuel reduction; and recreation in affected counties.

8/30/2011 -- In Oregon, the Mt. Hood National Forest used Recovery Act funding to replace 22 bridges on trails that serve hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Many of the replaced bridges had reached their normal life span of 15 to 20 years while one had been in place for 28 years. Numerous Pacific Northwest contractors and suppliers have been engaged in the work over the 2010 and 2011 field seasons. The new trail bridges are now contributing to public safety and enjoyment on both sides of the Cascade Crest within and outside of Congressionally Designated Wilderness. In addition to stimulating the local economy, the completed work will benefit forest recreationists for years to come.

8/29/2011 -- In Illinois, the city of Elgin recently finished a Forest Service Recovery Act funded urban forestry project that added over one million dollars into the local economy. Businesses such as tree service firms and nurseries, landscapers, hotels, restaurants, graphic designers, and printers benefitted from the 18-month public-private partnership effort. Using the premise that a sustainable community forestry program requires a combination of organized leadership; comprehensive tree population information; dedicated personnel and contractors; effective public education; and the support of residents and businesses, the city used Recovery Act funds to build foundations in these areas through a number of activities. For example, workers produced geographical information system-based maps and statistical data for future planning and canopy cover monitoring. Others removed high-risk trees and treated healthy ash trees to mitigate emerald ash borer infestation. Contractors and city crews also planted more than 1,100 trees. The city developed and implemented an urban forestry awareness campaign and investigated insect and disease threats to its forests and now plans for minimizing damage along with implementing a newly developed plan to efficiently utilize or dispose of wood waste. In addition to supporting the economy, the project has done much to contribute to Elgin’s long-term beauty, health, and safety to benefit residents and visitors.

8/26/2011 -- On August 17, the White Mountain Apache Tribe hosted a ribbon cutting and grand opening of the newly completed Native Plant Nursery in Canyon Day, Arizona, which Tribal Chairman Ronnie Lupe said will be an economic boon for the tribe. In October 2010, the tribe officially launched the $2.2 million Forest Service Recovery Act-funded construction project designed to replace a greenhouse that had burned in McNary, With the 2011 Wallow Fire burning over 500,000 acres in Arizona and New Mexico, the need for seedlings has become even greater than that identified following the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire. While the primary purpose of the facility is forest restoration, the tribe is also working with outside agencies looking at other market opportunities, such as ornamentals (flowers) and food products.

8/25/2011 -- In North Carolina, the Recovery Act is supporting aquatic monitoring work on the Nantahala National Forest. The work will determine whether the closure, in 2009, of the Upper Tellico Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) trail system to corrected serious erosion problems in the Upper Tellico River watershed in Cherokee County. The project was designed to reduce in-stream sediment levels and to determine if the expected sedimentation reduction and spawning habitat improvements will result in a brook trout density increase. The monitoring is focusing on six streams that are well distributed across the watershed where a North Carolina based contractor is collecting habitat data (pebble counts, pH, and water temperature). Much of the 39 mile trail system runs parallel to other streams in the area. The monitoring contract, now in its second year, will continue through September 2015. The Center for Aquatic Technology Transfer at Virginia Tech is providing project support. In addition to creating environmental jobs, the project will help forest managers make future land management decisions based upon sound data.

8/24/2011 -- In Oregon, the Recovery Act-funded restoration of Timberline Lodge on the  Mt. Hood National Forest should be finished by summer’s end. Contractors are currently reroofing the day lodge to top off this project. The massive restoration started in January of 2010. Created in the 1930s during the Great Depression as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration, Timberline’s over two million visitors annually will benefit from the $4.2 million in improvements to this National Historic Landmark. Work activities included asphalt overlays on parking lots; exterior painting; lodge window replacement; day lodge exterior door replacement and re-flooring; a chimney rebuild; new fire alarm systems; remodeled accessible restrooms; and more. Besides creating numerous jobs for construction contractors during the economic downturn, the restored facilities will enhance Oregon’s tourism industry while preserving a treasured historical landmark.

8/23/2011 -- On the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, a project to rehabilitate numerous historic fire towers in Western North Carolina is nearly complete. Work has been underway since 2010 at several towers, including Wayah Bald, Green Knob, Frying Pan, Rich Mountain, Albert Mountain, Joanna Bald, Cowee Bald, Panthertop, and Wauchecha Bald. Workers have been replacing windows, shutters, and roofs; repairing cracks in concrete slabs and walls; and restoring cabs, which are the small rooms located atop towers. The Wayah Bald observation tower work was finished in February, and contractors working on other Nanta hala National Forest towers finished their repairs at the end of July. Workers expect to finish restoration of the Pisgah National Forest towers before the end of the month. The work to repair these historic structures has preserved them for future generations while improving visitor safety and providing meaningful work to local contractors.

8/22/2011 -- In Montana, Lincoln County is using Forest Service Recovery Act funding to clear weeds and brush from several public areas in and around the communities of Libby and Troy to help restore productive use to the sites while reducing wildland fire hazard. The county has been hiring local residents to conduct weed treatments and local contractors to clear brush, thin trees, and chip woody biomass. Sites identified for treatment reflect the interests and support of local residents. For example, workers cleared and sprayed city property adjacent to a middle school to reduce fire danger and other safety concerns, essentially reclaiming the area for students and nearby residents. Last month, the county finished a hazardous fuels reduction project at Libby High School, and similar projects are expected through fall of 2013. The Recovery Act funding has also enhanced the county’s long-term ability to address noxious weed concerns through the purchase of additional weed treatment equipment.

8/19/2011 -- In Oregon, Recovery Act-funded local crews recently finished cutting and piling trees to reduce conifer encroachment on 427 acres of meadows on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. These meadows offer key habitat for many species, including deer and elk, which use the high-quality forage in early summer through fall. Great gray owls, wild turkeys, western bluebirds, and a variety of other neo-tropical migratory birds also use meadow habitats that support a variety of wildflowers, insects, and small mammals not found in forested habitats. Aggressive fire suppression over the last several decades had allowed conifer tree species to encroach upon many natural meadows across the High Cascades Ranger District, reducing the meadow habitat total area and degrading much of the remaining habitat. The Ashland-based crews will work on the project again when they burn the cured piles this fall or in 2012. 

8/18/2011 -- In Oregon this week, an Ashland neighborhood involving 27 homes is using a Forest Service Recovery Act grant from the city to remove hazardous fuels from their properties. Last March, the city received a $50,000 Firewise Communities grant, administered through the Oregon Department of Forestry, to help residents prepare their homes to survive catastrophic wildfires. Grant funds can be used for limbing trees; removing brush; chipping vegetation; transporting and disposing of material; and other fuel-reduction work. “We plan to use the grant money for small projects in many Firewise neighborhoods over the next couple of years,” said Ashland Fire & Rescue's Firewise Communities Coordinator Ali True. The project will mean more work for arborists and other contractors and will reduce fuels in the forested neighborhoods.

8/17/2011 -- In New Jersey, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is using a Forest Service Recovery Act grant to enhance wetland edge habitat and grassland and create scrub-shrub habitat at Ballanger Creek in the Bass River State Forest. Work to remove invasive species and plant native warm-season grasses and a variety of native fruit-bearing shrubs that offer both food and cover for migratory birds began in late 2009 and is now close to completion. In June, workers removed a large amount of milled asphalt, concrete, and other debris from the edge of the freshwater wetlands on the site and planted native shrubs and trees in the disturbed area to create suitable habitat for egrets, herons, and songbirds. The project includes designing a series of interpretive signs that will be installed this fall. In addition to the long-term benefit to many wildlife species, the project has supported environmental job opportunities.

8/16/2011 -- The Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW) is making progress on two Recovery Act-funded studies involving water quality and climate change while also supporting science-based work opportunities. In one effort, researchers are developing and organizing a database to compile and evaluate long-term water quality data from the Experimental Forests and Range network across the country for which a Web-based data-access system has been completed. The research team is currently using the data to address significant stream chemistry topics in manuscripts that will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals this fall. Additionally, researchers are presenting findings to multiple international societies. In another Recovery Act-funded project in cooperation with Oregon State University, PNW is investigating the effects and interactions of climate patterns and alternative forest management practices on forest, riparian, and stream habitat conditions. The Recovery Act funds have allowed for research scope expansion to include the effect of climatic variation on water availability for riparian forest growth. Scientists have presented research results at meetings and are preparing journal articles.

8/15/2011 -- In Oregon, a Recovery Act-funded Warm Springs tribal crew recently finished work that began in 2010 on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs through the Mount Hood National Forest and the Warm Springs reservation. On August 11, elders and parents from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, employees from the Mount Hood National Forest, and other partners joined the crew to celebrate as they received awards. Unemployment rates on the reservation are high, especially among youth. This portion of Oregon’s Youth Employment Initiative (OYEI) supplied much-needed income to young tribal members amid opportunities to learn important skills and work outdoors. Over the past two years, Forest Service Recovery Act grant funds have allowed young adults across the state of Oregon to work on various projects involving natural resources management on public and private lands. Numerous entities are partners in the initiative open to young people ages 15 to 24 to help them improve work and social skills while instilling a strong work ethic to increase their employability potential.

8/12/2011 -- In Maine, Forest Service Recovery Act-funded contractors are on schedule to convert heating systems from fossil fuel to biomass or wood burning systems at 22 public buildings across the state by June 2012. As grant administrator, the Maine Forest Service awarded funds in the third and final application round to 11 new recipients in late May. While construction is complete at three school locations, conversion progress at the remaining sites located at schools, universities, municipal buildings, and hospitals varies, with expectations to test and commission many of the systems during the upcoming heating season. Besides providing short-term construction jobs and long-term forest industry jobs, the program will reduce fuel costs and reliance on foreign oil.

8/11/2011 -- In Colorado this summer, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are supporting youth corps forest health work at Golden Gate Canyon State Park and on private land. Beginning in late May and throughout June, a Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) crew worked to remove dead and dying bark-beetle-killed trees from within 100 feet of park trails and then cut them for firewood. In July, the crew moved to private property adjacent to the park to conduct fuels mitigation work until mid-August. The Colorado State Forest Service is administering the MHYC projects that are offering meaningful service opportunities and educational experiences for corps members while mitigating danger from the mountain pine beetle epidemic that has affected more than four million acres throughout Colorado.

8/10/2011 -- Last month the Delaware Forest Service (DFS) finished a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded hazardous fuels reduction and ecosystem improvement project, exceeding the grant targets designed to reduce wildland fire risk near communities and improve forest health. To complete the work, the DFS hired work crews throughout the grant period. In all, the funding provided for the development of 12 fire management plans, ecosystem improvement projects on more than 1,000 acres, and hazardous fuels treatments on 160 acres benefiting six communities. 

8/9/2011 -- On the National Forests in North Carolina, a Recovery Act-funded trail restoration project on the Pisgah Ranger District is nearly finished. Local contractors have been working to re-grade and pave more than a mile of the Discovery Trail located at the Cradle of Forestry. Workers are also constructing resting places and improving drainage and gradient to make the trail accessible for people of all abilities. Before work began, the gravel trail exceeded acceptable grades for accessibility, rendering the trail inaccessible for its entire length. The finished work will benefit visitors for years to come.

“Forests Inside Out!” a Forest Service two-day program to provide outdoor education opportunities to students from underserved communities in the Northwest, is underway. Pacific Northwest Research Station Recovery Act-funds are supporting the multiple-session program that involves 400 children from Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., who will explore the World Forestry Center, Hoyt Arboretum, and hike with Forest Service interpreters to Wahkeena and Latourell falls along the Columbia River Gorge. As part of the program, eight high school students were hired as mentors to work with the younger participants and help them to connect with nature during their trips through sketching and journaling.

8/08/2011 -- In Idaho, a Forest Service State and Private Forestry Recovery Act-funded Shoshone County crew is busily pulling noxious weeds and reducing wildland fire hazardous fuel this summer. With a buildup of local forest fuels believed to be higher than conditions preceding the infamous Great Fire of 1910*, Shoshone County commissioners are mindful of the catastrophic wildfire potential and grateful for the funding. In addition to providing work for local young people, the funding allowed the county to acquire additional equipment so the weed work can continue when the project ends in September 2013. County Commissioner Larry Yergler said the equipment purchased not only contributes to the county's ability to respond to noxious weeds but also supported the local businesses where the equipment was purchased. The project is part of a larger grant being administered by the Idaho Department of Agriculture.
*On August 20 and 21, the Great Fire of 1910 burned about three million acres in northeast Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana, killing 87 people, including 78 firefighters.

8/5/2011 -- On July 22, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon announced the Upper Chetco Bridge had been reopened following Recovery Act-funded work to remove and replace a crumbling concrete abutment and repairs to bridge components to meet new standards. A local contractor had been working since April to repair the steel bridge that serves as one of the main crossings on the Chetco River Road, a primary public access corridor along the Chetco River, ensuring visitors safer passage on this scenic route that leads to numerous outdoor recreation opportunities. The completed work also ensures appropriate water flow for aquatic life while minimizing sedimentation and helping redirect flood water and debris. Recovery Act-funded workers are also making significant progress to repair a 25-mile stretch of road that connects the community of Agness with Gold Beach on the southern Oregon coast. The majority of the work to correct safety issues such as a compromised surface and yearly slides is tentatively scheduled for completion in November, with chip sealing to take place in 2012. In addition to supporting safer travel, the improvements will help reduce sedimentation into adjacent salmon fishery habitat.

8/4/2011 -- In Colorado, local contractors are almost finished with the Recovery Act-funded update of the portal to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. The Brainard project will improve public safety, reduce vehicle congestion, and enhance recreation opportunities at this popular site. The project that began last fall includes construction of a parking lot, a fee/information booth, a restroom, a warming shelter, and a section of trail that connects the new facilities to Brainard's existing trail system. The Forest Service collaborated with the Federal Highway Administration Central Federal Lands Highway Division to get the job done. Besides supplying construction work, the improvements in this area resplendent with dramatic Continental Divide scenery will further support the tourism economy.

8/3/2011 -- In Nevada, the City of Henderson will soon begin a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded tree inventory as a starting point for improving canopy cover. The inventory will include mapping, species identification, health evaluation, and maintenance prioritization to help the city know the number, location, and health of all of its trees in order to properly maintain them as well as focus on potential planting sites to improve Henderson’s canopy cover. The Nevada Division of Forestry received funding to offer competitive grants to local communities to enhance urban vegetation, reduce heat island effects, and improve the “green” setting for children’s playgrounds. In addition to providing employment opportunities, the grant will contribute to improved water and air quality and community aesthetics from the planned increase in canopy cover.

8/2/2011 -- In Montana, while contractors have finished various Recovery Act-funded projects at popular Lake Como on the Bitterroot National Forest, additional work is planned. Contractors will build a boat ramp and entrance this fall and pave some additional parking spaces next spring. Meanwhile, the new Three Sisters group use area is already popular with visitors, as site-use reservations have been coming in since February for events such as weddings and family reunions. Workers also restored and stabilized the historic Wood's Cabin and installed new trailhead information boards. The newly renovated Three Frogs Campground re-opened last week; and the project almost doubled the campground’s size in an area where visitor numbers have doubled in the last five years. Besides supplying construction jobs to local contractors, the new facilities will enhance year-round outdoor recreation opportunities and support continued tourism growth.

8/1/2011 -- In North Carolina, the Recovery Act-funded rehabilitation of the Great Wall Trail on the Nantahala National Forest will be completed in early August. A local contractor from Brevard began the upgrade and maintenance in May on one mile of this challenging section of trail, favored by experienced hikers. The work to bring the trail up to current Forest Service standards is part of a larger trail project that also covers the Devil’s Elbow Trail and includes installing dips, improving drainage, armoring creek crossings, repairing culverts, and clearing brush. Besides providing local employment, this project will improve visitor safety and access to the forest and reduce erosion by restoring drainage and stabilizing the trail. On the Cheoah Ranger District, restroom replacement is underway at three popular recreation sites. Contractors are replacing structures at Ammons Branch and Hurricane Creek campgrounds and the historic Wayah Bald Fire Tower. The work is part of a larger project designed to address deferred maintenance needs at facilities across the National Forests in North Carolina. These repairs will bring forest campgrounds up to standard for the visiting public, reducing health risks and improving visitor safety. The work is expected to be finished in early August. 

7/29/2011 -- This month Colorado Parks and Wildlife is finishing a 1,400-acre Forest Service Recovery Act-funded fuels reduction project in Perins Peak State Wildlife Area and on neighboring Bureau of Land Management land west of Durango. A local tree service company is cutting brush for Colorado Parks and Wildlife – the first step in creating a control line for a proposed prescribed burn. Other parts of the project completed last summer employed contractors who cleared brush and trees from larger areas and others who planted trees. In addition to the employment opportunities, the project will reduce wildland fire hazardous fuels and enhance forage for wildlife. Some results are already apparent. Grass and forbs are already sprouting in the new openings. Wildlife moves through the vegetation easier. Neighboring subdivision residents are delighted with the results.

7/28/2011 -- In New Hampshire, Recovery Act funding is allowing the White Mountain National Forest to partner with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s professional trail crew to stop a steep portion of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from eroding away on Mount Washington. Over the next four weeks, the steepest quarter-mile of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, one of the Northeast’s premier hiking routes, will be a high-country construction site while the trail crew restores the trail that is slowly eroding into the ravine. The work will necessitate closing a major section of the trail to mitigate danger from falling debris, but several alternate routes up Mount Washington remain open for hiking. The project is providing jobs while creating a safer trail for the public.

7/27/2011 -- In Idaho, several Recovery Act-funded paving and road repair projects will be starting at the end of July on the Clearwater National Forest. Wendover, Whitehouse, Powell, and Wilderness Gateway campgrounds will be closed at various times to allow contractors to safely accomplish road work over the next month. In addition, road repairs planned at the Powell Ranger Station and Compound beginning in mid-August will limit access for a few weeks. During that time, visitors can still obtain information by calling the Powell Ranger Station Office or visiting the Lolo Pass Visitors Center. The work is part of a larger project designed to put contractors to work while improving watersheds and fish passage; treating noxious weeds; enhancing recreation opportunities and public safety; and reducing deferred maintenance.

7/26/2011 -- In northern California, 20 local students are working this summer to improve forest health through a Recovery Act-funded Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program. The three-year partnership between Shasta College and the Shasta-Trinity National Forest is designed to accomplish needed conservation work on public lands. It will also provide gainful employment for young adults aged 15 to 18 years old, from varied social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds, as they develop an understanding and appreciation for the nation’s natural environment and heritage, according to Shasta College YCC Crew Education Coordinator Missey Dunaetz. In additional to gaining valuable job experience, the students are receiving 40 hours of environmental awareness training during the eight-week program. This summer crews have been working to clear Moore Creek and Jennings dispersed campgrounds of invasive species and to reduce fuels on local trails, including Hirz Bay, Fisherman’s Point, Water Gulch, and Fish Loop. The completed work will enhance visitors’ recreational opportunities and improve access for firefighters during suppression efforts.

7/25/2011 -- In Colorado, Forest Service crews working with the Veterans Green Corps* and Southwest Conservation Corps are conducting Recovery Act-funded hazardous fuels reduction work this season on the San Juan National Forest near Mancos and Dolores. Workers are hand-thinning approximately 100 acres of ponderosa pine forests in the Haycamp Mesa and Millwood areas, which will result in reduced wildfire risk to adjacent communities while offering easily accessible firewood gathering for the public. It is estimated that about 300 cords of green pine in diameters of 5 to 12 inches will be cut and piled adjacent to forest roads in these areas. Some firewood is available now, and more will be ready later this summer. “We are excited to provide an opportunity to our locals, especially our elderly, to easily access and retrieve firewood for heating their homes,” said Dolores Acting District Ranger Connie Clementson.
*The Veterans Green Corps program was developed through Veterans Green Jobs, a national non-profit based in Colorado that provides education and career development opportunities for military veterans. 

7/22/2011 -- On July 18, three popular day-use facilities reopened on the Stanislaus National Forest in California following extensive Recovery Act-funded improvements to address Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. These projects and others created jobs and helped retire a large roads and facilities maintenance backlog on the forest. The Donnell Vista Overlook, Columns of the Giants Interpretive Trail, and Douglas Day-Use Area were temporarily closed in 2010 due to construction activities which were followed by early heavy snow and slow snowmelt that delayed the work and the reopening. “We’re very excited to announce the reopening of some of our most popular recreation sites. Recovery Act funding provided an outstanding opportunity to create jobs, improve public recreation sites, install additional safety features, and increase access…to some of the most beautiful scenery in the country,” said Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski. Improvements at the three sites included re-paving some areas and building a new ADA accessible trail to the Donnell Vista observation platform.

7/21/2011 -- On July 18, Recovery Act-funded contractors began laying gravel on Three Frogs Campground roads at Lake Como on the Bitterroot National Forest (Mont.). The work is the last step in reconstructing this popular site that has been closed since September 2010 while workers improved accessibility and site safety at the campground formerly known as Upper Lake Como Campground. Other upgrades include new fire rings and picnic tables; two new restrooms; four walk-in tent campsites; and a new loop with nine additional campsites. Besides providing jobs, the project has nearly doubled the campground’s size and will support the local tourism economy while enhancing area outdoor recreation activities. The roadwork will be completed in under a week to allow for an early August re-opening.

7/20/2011 -- In northern Arizona, contractors are putting the finishing touches on Recovery Act-funded historic building renovations at three locations on the Kaibab National Forest. The North Kaibab Ranger District is upgrading and restoring the Dry Park cabin, structures at Big Springs, and Jump Up cabin -- the oldest ranger station on the Kaibab Plateau. Contractors from Arizona and Utah are doing the work, with the bulk of materials purchased locally. Work to replace flooring, interior walls, and a wood stove along with repairs to the circa-1906 Jump Up cabin’s foundation and exterior has made the facility available now on a first come-first served basis to visitors. Restoration work at Big Springs and the Dry Park cabin has included replacing the walls, windows, and floors; repairing concrete porches; and completing heating, electrical, and plumbing system upgrades. Not only has the project provided much-needed jobs but it is helping preserve structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places while making them more energy efficient. Work should be finished by the end of July. “This funding was an unusual opportunity to renovate facilities badly in need of repair, and they help us to fulfill our mission of caring for the North Kaibab Ranger District and serving the public,” said North Kaibab District Ranger Timothy Short. 

7/19/2011 -- In the Pacific Northwest, the Forest Service is using Recovery Act funds this summer for “Forests Inside Out,” a program that hires student mentors to introduce underserved youth in the Portland/Vancouver area to the Forest Service and forest sciences. Each week during August, two two-day sessions (10 sessions this summer) will bring children to sites in the city and along the Columbia River Gorge. The students will explore the World Forestry Center, Hoyt Arboretum, and hike with Forest Service interpreters to Wahkeena and Latourell falls. Last year, 350 participants came from Boys and Girls Clubs, community centers, child development centers, and Portland’s SUN community schools. The Pacific Northwest Research Station is inviting the same target audience of six- to ten–year-olds this summer. The program provides much-needed employment to student mentors while educating urban youth about the outdoors.

7/18/2011 -- In Alabama, a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded program to combat cogongrass is helping private landowners treat the noxious weed through an application selection process for multi-year herbicide application and monitoring services. Cogongrass is considered one of the top ten most invasive weeds in the world. Unchecked, cogongrass will dominate the southern landscape, turning a dynamic and diverse ecosystem into an unsuitable and unproductive monoculture and defeating multiple-use objectives such as recreation, wildfire habitat, hay and sod production, timber management, and biodiversity conservation. The Alabama Cogongrass Control Center (ACCC) is currently informing landowners whose properties have been selected for treatment in one of several selection phases. The Alabama Forestry Commission instituted the ACCC to suppress the invasive plant species through specific strategies in targeted areas of Alabama while allowing for job creation and retention. Cogongrass spreads quickly and disrupts ecosystems, reduces wildlife habitat, and can decrease tree seedling growth and establishment. Currently the most effective approach to controlling and eradicating cogongrass infestation is with repeated chemical application, sometimes over several years. Scientific American recently published an article about the work.

7/15/2011 -- On Colorado’s White River National Forest, the Cow Creek South Campground will close for the summer the evening of July 17 to allow local contractors to make Recovery Act-funded improvements. The work includes new deceleration lanes on Highway 9 to help resolve a safety concern and construction of 12 new campsites along with two campground host sites. The improved campground entrance will allow vehicles to enter and leave the campground safely. The additional campsites will help to accommodate the increasing demand at this popular site on the shores of Green Mountain Reservoir. The campground host sites will have photovoltaic electrical power and sewer hook ups, allowing the Dillon Ranger District to attract volunteer campground hosts who help with maintenance duties and provide information to campers. Besides providing private sector jobs, the improvements will enhance Summit County’s tourism economy while reducing facility operation costs and protecting the site’s natural resources.

7/14/2011 -- On July 8, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) toured Ochoco Lumber Company’s new pellet plant in John Day, Oregon, which was funded by a Forest Service Recovery Act grant. According to a local news article, Senator Wyden was highly encouraged that jobs and the economy can be boosted using collaboration between industry and conservation groups as a tool. "The community has really shown it can make a path to a better future," he said. Construction on the new facility started a little over a year ago, and the plant began producing pellets in February of this year. Plant operations have brought new full-time jobs to the community while supporting the retention of others at the company’s existing sawmill to help combat the region’s high unemployment rate. 

7/13/2011 -- In Washington, the Forest Service is using Recovery Act funds to collaborate with the University of Washington's School of Forest Resources to create opportunities for Native Americans pursuing forestry science graduate degrees. The effort that provides opportunities to student tribal members is focused on recruitment, retention, and successful completion of their graduate degree programs. Students receive financial, educational, cultural, and social support along with mentored work experiences on forest research projects. So far, three students have been recruited and are working on research projects led by Pacific Northwest Research Station scientists and university faculty. Two students enrolled at the beginning of the 2010-2011 academic year while a third student doing project work this summer will begin coursework this fall. Research projects identified to date will examine forest-stand structure and composition parameters on eastern Washington federal, state, and tribal lands and the decline of white bark pine on Montana’s Flathead Reservation. Not only are students gaining skills, knowledge, and experience but their work is contributing to the advancement of science-based forestry both on and off of tribal lands.

7/12/2011 -- In Montana, a local contractor is busy installing Recovery Act-funded trailhead signs throughout the Bitterroot National Forest. "Without the recovery funds, it could have taken us more than a decade to get all this work done," said Stevensville District Recreation Manager Gary Richtmyer. The contractor started work last fall and has installed signs on three other districts. He should finish the sign project that will help provide important information for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders ready to explore the backcountry behind the trailheads by the end of the summer. The signing is part of a larger Recovery Act project aimed at improving and maintaining 650 miles of trail on the Bitterroot and Lolo national forests. The work is providing private sector jobs while improving trail safety and enhancing visitor recreation experiences.

7/11/2011 -- Six southern Missouri schools are using Forest Service Recovery Act grants to install boiler systems that will use woody biomass from local public and private forestland to heat their facilities. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), in cooperation with the Forest Service's State & Private Forestry program, awarded almost $6 million to public schools in “Fuels for Schools” grants last fall, and some schools held groundbreaking ceremonies in October 2010. The new boilers will reduce costs and dependence on fossil fuels while creating or retaining jobs in the forest industry. Most projects are expected to be finished later this summer, just before students return for the new school year. More information is available at www.missourifuelsforschools.totorcd.org.

7/8/2011 -- In North Carolina, a portion of National Forest System Road 420-1 on the Nantahala National Forest is closed while a contractor makes Recovery Act-funded improvements. In the interest of public safety while construction is underway, the work will require closure of the road to through traffic except for residents accessing Tipton Creek. Others must use alternate routes until the work is finished. The closure on the Tusquitee Ranger District that began on July 5 will continue for a few months. The roadwork to bypass steep switchbacks will affect approximately three miles of what is also known as Davis Creek or Tipton Creek road. Besides providing jobs, the project will provide safer, all-season access to National Forest System lands, the Tipton Creek community, and better access from Murphy, the Cherokee County seat, north toward Tennessee.

7/7/2011 -- The Chippewa National Forest is using Recovery Act funds to design and reconstruct heavily traveled Mission Road which ranks among the top most dangerous routes in Minnesota’s Beltrami County. The county Highway Department began work this summer on the road also known as Forest Highway 57 and County Road 33 located between Lake Andrusia and Allens Bay of Cass Lake. Workers will realign the road to improve sight distances in addition to building a 40-foot-wide bituminous surface. Funding sources in addition to Forest Service Recovery Act funds include monies from Beltrami County, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Public Works Department, and the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009. Work on the roadway which provides access for local residents, forest recreation users, and visitors to summer camps and private resorts will be finished by December 2012. The project is providing meaningful jobs while contributing to public safety.

7/6/2011 -- The Forest Service is collaborating with Oregon State University (OSU) to promote diversity through a Recovery Act-funded cooperative agreement to significantly expand educational and job opportunities for natural resources students from underrepresented communities. Through the Pacific Northwest Research Station, Recovery Act funds are supporting the College of Forestry's SEEDS ("Strengthening Education and Employment for Diverse Students") program, which seeks to recruit and retain students while providing a supportive environment and helping them develop career pathways in natural resources disciplines. The SEEDS program promotes student success by matching scholars with mentors who provide guidance and experience, including paid employment, in the students' chosen natural resources management or science field. OSU faculty mentors assist their protégés in building a support network that will help them succeed after they graduate. So far, over a dozen College of Forestry students have participated in mentored work experiences. The partnership funding will continue through the summer.

7/5/2011 -- In Missouri, the Student Conservation Association (SCA) has been working since February on a Recovery Act-funded trail assessment and condition survey on the Mark Twain National Forest. Data collected on the Forest’s numerous hiking, motorized vehicle, or multi-use trails will identify trail feature and hazard locations and include recommendations for repairs, relocations, or decommissioning. Crews are also using global positioning systems to provide more precise trail location points in order to create accurate public maps. "I love to hike on trails, and I feel good knowing that I played a role in maintaining them," said SCA crew member Nettina Conkey from Happy Camp, California. Besides providing valuable employment experiences for youth, the work that should be finished by the end of the year is allowing the Forest to address critical deferred maintenance and safety concerns while enhancing visitors’ experiences.

7/1/2011 -- In Idaho, contractors are working on various Recovery Act- funded road reconstruction and recreation site improvement projects on the Clearwater National Forest this summer. While construction is underway, visitors may experience traffic delays or need to take different routes to their favorite spots or try some new areas. However, Le Ann Wilson, North Fork District visitor information specialist, said Forest Service employees have heard nothing but praise from those visiting areas where work is complete. This summer, several roads will be improved by adding new culverts to enhance drainage, and re-grading surfaces and repairing bridges to enhance safety. Many recreation areas, including Aquarius, Noe Creek, Washington Creek, Hidden Creek, and Cedars campgrounds, are getting new fire rings, table pads, and other improvements. Hikers starting from Smith Ridge and Isabella Point trailheads will see new restrooms at these areas by summer’s end. The projects are providing jobs for local contractors hit hard by the economy, and the improvements will continue to draw tourists to support the local economy long after the work is finished.

6/30/2011 -- In Nevada this summer, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District and Fuels Team are conducting a Recovery Act-funded fuels reduction project on 100 acres of Washoe County land near the Sun Valley Regional Park. Crews will be thinning brush, trees, and dead fuels adjacent to vulnerable homes and infrastructure to increase crown spacing between juniper trees; remove ladder fuels; reduce brush continuity to minimize fire spread and intensity; and reduce fuel load to improve forest health. Workers will chip or pile biomass for burning as conditions permit. Besides creating jobs and protecting homes, the project will increase public and firefighter safety by reducing the potential intensity of a wildland-urban interface fire while slowing wildfire movement into or out of open space and improving firefighter access. 

6/29/2011 -- This summer, visitors are flocking to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in Juneau, Alaska, which the Forest Service recently upgraded with Recovery Act funding. Located on the Tongass National Forest, the visitor center attracts more than 400,000 visitors annually. “Imagine having a front row seat to a spectacular, enormous ice field flowing down a valley into the glacier, and that’s what you experience when you are at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “This is a must-see venue that showcases Alaska’s natural treasures. The facility has been recently enhanced with Recovery Act funding and has become a state-of-the-art visitor experience, bringing much-needed tourism dollars into southeast Alaska.” The site provides tremendous commercial opportunities for local outfitter guides and tour companies that enhance the visitor experience while sustaining local jobs. Tourism spending in the Juneau area also supports hundreds of jobs at area shops, restaurants, and hotels. The Recovery Act-funded upgrades at the visitor center included new interpretive and exhibit materials and repairs to nearby trails that provided jobs and continue to help visitors enjoy the area’s unique natural and cultural wonders.

6/28/2011 -- In Oregon, the Forest Service Recovery Act-sponsored “Science Stories” initiative has a new Web site, http://sciencestories.uoregon.edu/, to feature science journalism work. This initiative that connects student journalists with Northwest scientists to produce stories about research made possible by the Recovery Act involves University of Oregon graduate and undergraduate journalists who research and report stories over various ten-week courses. Student reporters work in teams to produce multimedia packages based on cutting-edge research into climate change, wildland fire, and urban forestry. Not only is the program providing important journalism job experience for students but also the collaboration introduces students to the challenges and techniques of science reporting by allowing them to spend time in the field with ecologists, field biologists, and social scientists. The resulting Web-based stories will help connect research findings with communities and current issues across the Pacific Northwest. The program is continuing this summer, offering new students opportunities to follow Recovery Act funded research projects in the Northwest.

6/27/2011 -- In New Jersey this summer, the Recovery Act is providing funds for Holmdel Township to remove a number of dead black locust trees growing along a well-traveled road near the Village Elementary School. The local Shade Tree Commission obtained a Forest Service Recovery Act grant from the New Jersey Forest Service’s Community Stewardship Incentive Program. Holmdel has contracted with a local tree removal service to take down the hazardous trees by the end of the summer, before school buses and car pools begin traveling the route regularly again. The state grant program is helping many towns and local governments to implement community forestry programs in New Jersey while providing jobs for arborists and other landscape professionals in tough economic times.

6/24/2011 -- On June 25, Chattahoochee National Forest officials will host a grand opening of the Recovery Act-funded Dry Creek Trail System in northwest Georgia. The project included new trail built to create a safer, more maintainable, and ecologically sustainable system from an unplanned network of older trails that did not meet current standards. Workers closed and rehabilitated five miles of old trail and surveyed, planned, and constructed 26 miles of new trail. Chattahoochee-Oconee Forest Supervisor George Bain said, “The success of this large trails project would not have been possible were it not for this [Recovery Act] funding and the involvement of our partners—the Georgia Pinhoti Trail Association, the Back Country Horsemen of America, and others.” The work provided vital jobs and now offers horseback riders, hikers, and mountain bikers safer and more satisfying outdoor recreation experiences.

6/23/2011 -- Recovery Act funds are enabling the McBride Springs Campground on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California to re-open this Friday after being closed since 2009 following the discovery of an extensive fungal infection affecting white fir trees in the campground. Workers cut and removed approximately 225 potentially hazardous trees to ensure camper safety. The forest and the California Conservation Corps (CCC) have been working to remove the leftover slash and woody debris to naturalize the popular campground. In addition to cleaning up the slash, the forest planted hundreds of ponderosa pine seedlings that this disease strain does not affect and added additional native plants and shrubs within the campground area. Additional cleanup and naturalization is expected to continue throughout the season, keeping CCC members employed and improving outdoor recreation opportunities for campers.

6/22/2011 -- In Colorado this summer, Recovery Act-funded work on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests Boulder Ranger District involves much-needed improvements to the Rainbow Lakes Campground and associated trailheads. Besides providing private sector jobs, the upgrades will make the area safer and more enjoyable for a greater variety of users. In the interest of public safety, the area is closed to visitors this season while the work is completed. Workers are combining and relocating two trailheads just east of the newly reconstructed campground while improving trailhead parking and building an information kiosk and accessible restrooms. Hikers will no longer need to go through the campground to access trails leading into the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Campers will experience less traffic, and the campground will be accessible to all, with new fire rings, tent pads, grills, picnic tables, bear-resistant storage containers, and parking facilities. Recreationists desiring a more primitive experience will enjoy new sites being added for “walk-in” camping.

6/21/2011 -- In Illinois, the City of Chicago is using Forest Service Recovery Act funds to hire disadvantaged workers with significant employment barriers, including those with criminal records, to accomplish natural resource restoration projects. The Greencorps Chicago - Calumet (GCC) program is providing valuable job experience in this evolving green industry. By removing invasive species, cutting down trees, and replanting more desirable plant species, trainees are working to improve environmental quality and habitat health on publicly owned wetland, prairie, and forested sites in southeast Chicago. GCC program manager Zach Taylor said trainees receive 18 months of paid training and on-the-job experience, making them potential employees for the many area contractors that do strictly ecological restoration work, including federally-mandated wetland mitigation projects. GCC workers are also receiving job placement services, and at least one corps member has been hired by a local restoration firm. GCC trainees will wrap up their program work by the end of this summer.

6/20/2011 -- This month in California, Recovery Act-funded workers are finishing restoration of the historic Crocker Guard Station on the Plumas National Forest. California contractors are strengthening the foundation and replacing the roof and windows. Volunteers are painting and adding landscaping. “The Recovery Act money was a real blessing to our district,” said Mary Kliejunas, the Plumas archeologist leading the restoration work for the structure which was built in 1912 as one of the earliest guard stations established on the forest. The Recovery Act also paid for roadwork to the Black Mountain Lookout, which the Beckwourth Ranger District added to the recreation rental system last month. While volunteers completed most of the lookout’s renovation work, the Recovery Act-funded roadwork literally moved the project along. The lookout is already booked for most of the summer, and revenue raised from that rental will pay for upkeep and additional renovation work, providing future jobs while enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities for the public.

6/17/2011 -- In Florida, Forest Service Recovery Act funds recently helped the City of Maitland plant approximately 100 shade trees to fill the voids in a residential neighborhood’s tree canopy. Through community meetings and numerous site visits, more than 46 residents helped make tree selection and placement decisions. A local contractor planted the trees. Right of ways with the least amount of overall canopy were priority sites. Conflicts with overhead wires, water mains, septic fields, underground phone lines, and surrounding trees disqualified other planting sites. The city will provide a pruning program to ensure the trees grow properly, and neighborhood residents will water the trees. Besides providing jobs and cooling the environment, the trees tie the neighborhood together. The Florida Division of Forestry received Forest Service Recovery Act funding to offer competitive grants to reforest public right-of-ways to stimulate economic activity in the nursery and landscaping sectors. Local communities are benefiting ecologically from the increase in canopy cover that will contribute to improved water and air quality and community aesthetics.

6/16/2011 -- In Washington and Oregon this summer, the Forest Service is using Recovery Act funds to create natural resource-focused leadership and learning opportunities for students in middle school to graduate school. Approximately 30 summer jobs will have been created by the time the project is finished, with additional opportunities for undergraduate students and graduate mentors both during the summer and the coming school year. The Pacific Northwest Research Station is working with partners* to hire young adults as interns to coordinate and supervise projects utilizing students to collect field data for researchers. For example, last summer seven interns worked in the Olympia area collecting detailed data for an ongoing study of the seasonal timing of life-cycle events (such as bud burst, bud set, and growth period) of important forest plant species to help land managers better address climate change. The interns also helped process samples from a soil carbon study and provided Web support. More students will have jobs this summer to continue this important contribution to science.

*Partners include the University of Washington, Portland State University, Oregon State University, the World Forestry Center's Youth Inside Out Program, and the Olympia Lab Internship Program.
 

6/15/2011 -- In California on the Los Padres National Forest, contractors recently accomplished Recovery Act-funded critical safety closures at the Deer Trail and Rinconada abandoned mine sites. Deer Trail mine's underground caverns are home to a sizeable bat community, but its caves have long fascinated local adventure seekers, creating public safety issues. "Thanks to Recovery Act funding, we installed bat gates at the Deer Trail mine that allow access for the bats while ensuring visitors cannot get themselves into a potentially dangerous situation," said Bob Jarvis, Los Padres contracting officer representative for the project. At Rinconada mine, a popular expanding and deepening sinkhole was becoming a growing public safety concern. Using Recovery Act funds, a local contractor built fencing around the perimeter and posted signs warning of the sinkhole’s danger. The completed work will have long-lasting effects on visitor safety and wildlife habitat enhancement.

6/14/2011 -- In North Carolina, Flanner’s Beach Campground and Picnic Area on the Croatan National Forest reopens today following several months of Recovery Act-funded reconstruction that was interrupted by an April tornado that covered the site with fallen trees and limbs. Visitors to the site, located near New Bern, will enjoy noticeable improvements to campground facilities, including a new accessible restroom and repaved walking path encircling the campground. Local contractors also replaced a 40-year-old wastewater system. In addition to the campground restoration work, Recovery Act-funded crews have been performing maintenance such as removing broken pavement and re-surfacing paved portions of trail; tread restoration and maintenance; drainage structure maintenance or installation; corridor clearing; hazard tree removal; and repairing, replacing, or installing boardwalks, puncheon, turnpike, and culverts on 19.3 miles of area hiking and biking trails,. The projects have helped the local economy by providing construction jobs and will continue supporting the local tourist industry by providing first-class visitor facilities.

6/13/2011 -- Last week in Montana, Recovery Act-funded contractors began resurfacing 11 miles of the popular West Hungry Horse Reservoir Road on the Flathead National Forest. The project work is providing private sector jobs while improving this major recreation gateway. The road work will also help protect the watershed by reducing erosion and sedimentation. In the interest of public safety, the road will be closed this summer while work is underway, and several recreation sites will only be accessible by boat. However, visitors will appreciate the finished restoration work, which is part of a larger project to reduce the Forest’s road maintenance and reconstruction backlog. Other facets of this larger project will reduce impacts to endangered and sensitive species and improve watershed health by decommissioning approximately 55 miles of roads, treating noxious weeds, and improving two stream crossings that block fish passage. The work is expected to be completed this fall.

6/10/2011 -- On June 25 in Colorado, the Pawnee National Grassland will celebrate completion of the Recovery Act-funded Bird Tour project with a grand opening. Grassland staff and volunteers will greet the public out on the prairie for birding as well as other recreational activities. The Bird Tour uses grassland and county roads and provides visitors the opportunity to view a variety of bird species in their natural environment. The Bird Tour project supplied jobs and repaired roads that had degraded due to a loss of aggregate surfacing and erosion problems caused by poor drainage. Visitors will also appreciate new interpretive signing that was part of the project. Partners who have helped make the Bird Tour successful include the National Audubon Society and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

6/9/2011 -- On May 21, in conjunction with National Bike Month, the National Forests in Florida celebrated the renovation of the Munson Hills Off-Road Bicycle Trail on the Apalachicola National Forest. This Recovery Act-funded project involved seven miles of off-road trails and took three months to complete, employing six area residents. The Forest Service worked with many partners to create this off-road trail near Tallahassee, which connects to the St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail. Area residents use the popular recreation site spanning approximately 20 miles for bicycling, running, and walking. The event was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by an enthusiastic crowd. Guest speaker Jim Wood of the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails kicked off the ceremony. Wakulla Deputy District Ranger Harold Shenk recognized those individuals who contributed to the restoration and renovation of the trails. Following the ceremony, the Tallahassee Mountain Bike Club led a group bicycle ride.

Early this fall, the City of Gardiner, Maine, will use a Forest Service Recovery Act grant to replace a 40-year-old oil-fired burner at City Hall with a wood-pellet boiler. In late May, Gardiner was one of 11 successful Fuels for Public Building Grant applicants in the Maine Forest Service’s third application round to distribute funds to help primarily rural, economically depressed counties support the conversion of public building heating systems to wood/dual-fuel heating systems, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and use of a renewable energy source. City Manager Scott Morelli said the city is extremely grateful to receive the grant and will soon be going out to bid for the project. “Now we can reduce our reliance on the volatile oil market, support local businesses, and achieve long-term energy cost savings for our citizens," Morelli said. City officials anticipate saving about $4,250 annually when the conversion is complete. The installation of wood-energy boilers creates jobs and saves energy and money local governments would normally spend to heat buildings. Twenty-two Recovery Act grants valued at $11.4 million have been awarded to schools, universities, medical centers, and other public buildings around Maine for the installation of wood-energy boilers.

6/8/2011 -- In Michigan, DTE Energy is using Forest Service Recovery Act funds to remove dead and dying ash trees located near power lines. The funds allow for hiring an additional 12 contractors to be employed in a state hit hard by the recession. The work will also help SE Michigan avoid power outages while mitigating the effects of emerald ash borer infestations. Tree interference is responsible for about two-thirds of the power outages that occur during storms. "The U.S. Forest Service grant gives us an opportunity to minimize power outages in areas where the impact of ash trees has been a growing concern," said Vince Dow, DTE Energy distribution operations vice-president. "Removing dead and dying ash trees is important both for human safety and in fighting the emerald ash borer," said Therese Poland, Ph.D., a Northern Research Station entomologist. Property owners will remove debris from the infested trees. Work that recently began should be finished this fall.

6/7/2011 -- On June 6, the Roan Mountain Gardens Recreation Area on the Pisgah National Forest near the North Carolina-Tennessee border reopened in time for the popular 2011 rhododendron season following year-long Recovery Act-funded renovation work. Local contractors performed project work that included replacing and resurfacing the Rhododendron Gardens’ observation deck and its connecting trail system; resurfacing the main paved road leading to the Cloudland parking area; and building a new accessible restroom to replace a dilapidated 1960s-era restroom facility near the parking area. The improvements will provide a safer and more enjoyable visit while increasing accessibility to people of all abilities. “I very much appreciate the public’s understanding over the last year while the recreation area was closed during renovations,” said Appalachian District Ranger Tina Tilley. In addition, Recovery Act-funded crews have been mowing, weed-eating, and using chainsaws to control trees, shrubs, and blackberries from encroaching on the sensitive species native to the nearby balds at Grassy Ridge, Bradley Gap, and Big Hump Mountain.

6/6/2011 -- On June 9, the Willamette National Forest McKenzie River Ranger District will host an open house and dedication of its new Recovery Act-funded office building. The event will include building tours from 2 to 5 p.m. with a short dedication at 3 p.m. A Portland-based company built the 14,000-square-foot structure over a 14-month period. The work involved remodeling and recycling a large percentage of the former deteriorating administrative office to create a new environmentally green building built to Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, with energy-efficient elements such as insulated windows, use of natural light, and non-irrigated landscape. As with all Recovery Act projects, all the material used was American-made. A local woodworker built several components, such as the window frames and conference table, using hazard trees from the District. The previous office space was not large enough to accommodate all District employees after the Blue River and McKenzie ranger districts were combined in 2002. Several 1,000-square-foot modular offices built in the 1980s to increase work space were inefficient and reaching the end of their lifespan. 

6/2/2011 -- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been using Forest Service Recovery Act funding to plant nearly 700 trees along busy roads and city streets in Detroit and southeast Michigan, focusing on job creation while stimulating the local economy and enhancing the area's critical green infrastructure. In addition to reforesting some of metro Detroit's busiest thoroughfares to help the city reach the U.S. goal of 40 percent canopy cover, this project has served as a learning opportunity for trainees in The Greening of Detroit's Workforce Development Program where 17 planting specialists have been trained and employed. "By forming a partnership between state, federal, and city agencies, we have been able to create a project that maximizes benefits to southeast Michigan's environment while preparing a new workforce for entry into the green industry," said Rebecca Salminen-Witt, president of The Greening of Detroit. In Ann Arbor, the City is providing equipment, technical assistance, and ongoing maintenance of trees that include hornbeams, hackberries, London planes, swamp white oaks, and lindens as well as elm varieties believed to be resistant to Dutch elm disease.

6/1/2011-- On May 21, the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana held a grand opening for the Recovery Act-funded new Three Sisters group use area near Lake Como. Besides supplying construction jobs to local contractors, the site is already popular with visitors, as reservations to use the site have been coming in since February. Workers completed most of the construction last fall. Previously a day-use area, the new facilities will support local tourism as a comfortable gathering location for family reunions, weddings, and other special events. “We couldn't have done this without stimulus money, which is also helping us upgrade Woods Cabin," Forest Supervisor Julie King said. Darby District Ranger Chuck Oliver donated benches around the fire pit and a log table, using logs thinned from the recreation area, while the table legs are the stumps of trees that had to be cut to make way for the pavilion.

5/31/2011 -- On May 23, Maine Governor Paul LePage announced 11 new oil-to-wood heating grant awards in the third and final application round under the Forest Service's Recovery Act Fuels for Public Buildings grants. The Maine Forest Service (MFS) awards are expected to add jobs through the construction phase of these projects as well as save recipients between one-half to two-thirds on their annual heating bills while reducing dependency on foreign oil, according to Tom Wood, MFS senior planner. “This program is about harvesting, processing, transporting, and consuming more Maine wood. This all adds up to more Maine jobs,” Governor LePage said. The installation of wood-energy boilers in schools, hospitals, state, county, cities, towns, and tribal governments save energy and money local governments would normally spend to heat buildings. The $3.2 million distribution means that a total of 22 Recovery Act grants for the installation of wood-energy boilers have been awarded to schools, universities, medical centers, and other public buildings around Maine.

5/27/2011 -- Forest Service Recovery Act dollars, funneled through the Land-of-Sky Regional Council, are helping 14 competitively selected Western North Carolina (WNC) businesses produce and market new crops while creating local jobs through the Western North Carolina Forest Products Cooperative Marketing Project. With educational support from the North Carolina Mountain Mushroom Cooperative, farmers are now raising specialty items such as shiitake mushrooms, a non-native crop that grows on logs. The project is also supporting a focus on native foods that are less susceptible to frost, disease, and pests, thus reducing overhead. Recovering Traditional Cherokee Delicacies, another WNC Forest Products partner, aims to “train and employ unemployed forest producers to harvest, grow, and market forest food products traditionally gathered by the Cherokee, such as wild edible greens and mushrooms,” according to the group’s grant proposal. Besides providing jobs in an area hit hard by the recession, these efforts are helping locals grow healthy food, and in some cases, preserve native plants and the culture of native people

5/26/2011 -- On June 11, the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in Colorado will celebrate the grand re-opening of the Mount Margaret, Molly Moon, Lady Moon, and Elkhorn Creek trailheads. Most of the work is complete on this Recovery Act-funded project that reconstructs the four popular trailheads. Managers expect to add the final upgrades in time for the grand opening. Congressional representatives, county officials, and interested publics will be formally invited. Local communities appreciate the jobs small business contractors generated while upgrading the trailheads and decommissioning two roadside pull-offs. Designating parking areas and adding accessible restrooms and interpretive signing will improve visitor safety and enhance recreationists’ experiences at these often-overcrowded trailheads.

5/25/2011 -- In Florida, Recovery Act-funded work to rehabilitate the Leon Sinks Interpretive Trail located within the Leon Sinks Geological Area on the Apalachicola National Forest is finished. On April 30, Forest officials marked the completion of the renovations with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to which the public was invited. The Forest hosted an interpretive hike after the ribbon cutting to familiarize attendees with the trail system and improvements. The project included rehabilitating 20-year-old wooden boardwalks, viewing platforms, and trailhead facilities and replacing signage on a trail very popular with school groups, families, and individual hikers. The Leon Sinks Geological Area consists of a layer of limestone, eroded and dissolved by rainwater and groundwater to form caverns, holes, and tunnels in the limestone. The project’s completion allows safer public access to this heavily-used area while protecting sensitive environments.

5/24/2011 -- In the interest of public safety, Recovery Act-funded construction work at recreation sites on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in Colorado scheduled this summer will cause temporary closures and traffic delays as contractors get back to work following winter snowmelt at higher elevations. At the popular Brainard Lake Recreation Area, workers will continue building new entrance station facilities and developing a managed parking area; creating connector trails; and installing accessible restrooms, a warming hut, and signage. The Brainard Lake area, with its dramatic Continental Divide scenery and close proximity to the heavily-used Indian Peaks Wilderness, is important to the tourism economy. Contractors will also begin reconstructing Rainbow Lakes Campground and its associated trailheads near Nederland this summer as soon as conditions permit. Boulder District Ranger Christine Walsh said, “We’re very pleased that these long-overdue upgrades will soon be complete. The projects will result in improved visitor facilities and enhanced protection of natural resources.”

5/23/2011 -- On May 28, volunteers will plant 185 trees within the historic Berkley Square neighborhood in Las Vegas as part of a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded Nevada forest revitalization project. The City of Las Vegas is using the Nevada Division of Forestry grant to plant one 15-gallon tree suited to the desert southwest on each property fronting the street, with corner lots eligible for up to three trees. Adjacent property owners will maintain the trees. The event will begin with a ceremonial planting of the first tree and will culminate in a community barbecue. “This is a unique opportunity to instantly provide shaded, walkable streets within the community at no cost to the homeowner,” said Ward 5 Councilman Ricki Barlow. The event is part of a larger urban forestry effort to retain and create jobs in Clark County, which has been devastated by the current economic recession, while helping reduce urban heat island effects and improving community aesthetics within neighborhoods.

5/20/2011 -- In Washington, visitors to the Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument will see new Recovery Act-funded interpretive exhibits that will enable them to track the reestablishment of plants and animals since the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. The Johnson Observatory opened May 15 for the season, and three kiosks featuring the "Return to Life" exhibit are now available there. The Recovery Act also put people to work replacing windows at the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center and revamping other recreational facilities around the monument, further supporting Washington’s tourism economy.

Upgraded facilities in San Juan National Forest campgrounds in southwestern Colorado will be finished in time to accommodate early visitors. Local contractors who did most of the Recovery Act-funded work are putting the finishing touches on new restrooms. “The most popular campgrounds are Havilland Lake, Junction Creek, and Vallecito,” said Mena Showman, Columbine Ranger District developed-recreation program leader. Havilland Lake and Junction Creek each have 44 campsites, which have been remodeled so that they are accessible to everyone. About half of them have electrical hookups. Vallecito Campground is a staging area for hikers planning to visit the adjoining Weminuche Wilderness. The project is helping to support tourism, which is important to the area’s economy.

5/19/2011 -- Next week Recovery Act-funded contractors will begin building fishing piers and platforms and installing a new emergency spillway structure at Williams Dam on the Medora Ranger District of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands in North Dakota. The reservoir, constructed by the Works Progress Administration, is important to fish and wildlife as well as recreationists.

The Forest Service is using Recovery Act funds to collaborate with several partners concerning the “SLow Ash Mortality (SLAM) Project” designed to help address ash tree mortality caused by emerald ash borers (EAB) in Michigan. On June 2, EAB University will present SLAM information as one of its free webinars that focuses on topics such as recent research on emerald ash borer and other invasive pests and diseases; how homeowners can recognize and manage EAB; and preparing municipalities for EAB. The University is funded by the Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry and was developed by Michigan State, Purdue, and Ohio State university communications specialists who have been dealing with the EAB since its discovery in North America in 2002. In addition to the Forest Service, SLAM project collaborators include the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and several state entities in Michigan. The program’s goal in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is to delay and slow the expansion of ash mortality by reducing beetle populations in newly-infested sites outside of known EAB infestations.

5/18/2011 -- In Pennsylvania, Recovery Act-funded contractors have nearly finished repairing and restoring the stone wall entrance to Grey Towers National Historic Site, ancestral home of Gifford Pinchot, founder and first chief of the Forest Service. The restoration of almost 600 feet of the century-old wall was needed to repair collapsed portions that deteriorated over time from water infiltration, freeze-thaw cycles, and activities associated with adjacent roadway improvements. Following National Historic Preservation Act standards and using historic photos and documentation, the stone masonry contractors have been able to make the wall look as authentic as possible. To mitigate future damage from the high water table, the wall will now have dry-tamped footings so that water can percolate beneath the wall without damaging the structure, as happened in various locations in the past. The project has provided meaningful work while preserving an important aspect of American history that supports Pennsylvania’s tourism economy.

5/17/2011 -- Earlier this month, a year-long Forest Service Recovery Act-funded abandoned strip mine restoration project culminated with students and conservationists gathering at Sproul State Forest near Kato, Pennsylvania to plant several hundred American chestnut trees donated by the American Chestnut Foundation. The project involved taking a non-native, post-mine landscape and transforming it into productive, early successional forest habitat—a habitat in short supply in the state. The work also created jobs in an area that has suffered in a tough economy. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, and several other partners have been supporting Forest Service efforts to recover native tree species and composition on landscapes that experienced surface mining. The project has also provided important groundwork for another recovery. “The conditions on old surface mines are similar to those after the drilling of wells for natural gas,” said Jeffrey Larkin, associate professor of ecology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “The techniques employed on this old coal mine may point the way to recovery for those well sites after the heavy drilling equipment is gone.”

On May 16, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin began a temporary closure of the Valhalla Recreation Area so that local contractor Angelo Luppino, Inc. could start Recovery Act-funded work to address safety issues through changes to trail crossings, rehabilitation of the existing parking lot, and the development of a new parking area. “We ask that during construction that the public please stay out of the area and off the closed trails so that Luppinos can safely and efficiently complete the project work they were contracted to do. We look forward to welcoming users back and experiencing all of the new and exciting changes within the Valhalla Recreation Area,” said Washburn Acting District Ranger John Bryan.

5/16/2011 -- On May 27, Washington Parks and People will host District of Columbia Green Corps presentations and a cohort graduation at the Community College of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC. Forest Service Recovery Act funds sponsored the creation of this Green Corps program designed to provide entry-level employment and job training in the urban forestry industry. Over 30 adults are expected to participate in the graduation ceremony. District of Columbia Green Corps teams will give short presentations describing the program and what they have learned as a result of their training. The Forest Service Northeastern Area is administering the funds for the collaborative effort between Washington Parks and People and the Urban Forestry Administration of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. Numerous other partners have supported the project designed to positively affect the DC environment and watershed in addition to providing job experiences and promoting green careers.

5/13/2011 -- Even though the project is not finished, Forest Service Recovery Act-funded work to create a mile-wide wildfire resilient buffer surrounding Georgia’s Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has helped firefighters. The work almost exclusively contained the nearly 100,000-acre Honey Prairie Fire within the 438,000-acre swamp’s boundaries, protecting surrounding private land and infrastructure. The Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) is overseeing the Recovery Act grant designed to support landowners adjacent to the refuge by planning firebreaks, conducting burnouts, mowing, and applying herbicide inside that buffer, all implemented by four foresters hired for the project. So far, local contractors hit hard by slumping timber markets have completed 14,000 of the 18,000 acres contracted. Five communities in the vicinity at risk from wildfire have also received funding for wildfire mitigation projects. In 2007, Georgia and Florida suffered their worst wildfires in history, burning some 560,000 acres in and around the Okefenokee. According to GFC Chief of Forest Protection Alan Dozier, the success in containing the current fire thus far points to the Recovery Act grant’s successful application.

5/12/2011 -- During the annual Utah Preservation Conference in Salt Lake City, the Utah Heritage Foundation presented an award to the Dixie National Forest for the Recovery Act-funded rehabilitation of the Pine Valley Guard Station. The honor comes in recognition of a project that exemplifies the highest standards of historic preservation. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the guard station, which is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, in 1935 to accommodate the recreation guard in charge of the adjacent campground. By 1998 staff rarely used the building, and it was in poor condition. Recovery Act-funded improvements that began last May included exterior drainage and erosion control, an accessible restroom, and electrical system updates. Contractors also removed lead-based paint and repainted the building inside and out; repaired doors, windows, and historic cabinetry; and replaced flooring and the wood-shingle roof along with a wooden flagpole following the historic design. The work is featured on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntIqFxzk9tw. The rehabilitation work provided numerous jobs while preserving the site for future generations. Beginning this summer, visitors can stay in the guard station through the Forest Service’s cabin rental program, adding another element to the local tourist economy.

5/11/2011 -- In southern Oregon, Recovery Act-funded construction will begin May 16 on 22 miles of the Agness Road that traverses the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and connects the small community of Agness with Gold Beach on the coast and Powers to the north. Oregon contractor Laskey-Clifton Corporation has been selected to rehabilitate the road through culvert installations, drain assemblies, excavation, stabilization, and bridge rail modifications -- all designed to improve water quality and aquatic habitats by reducing erosion and sediment run-off from the road into nearby streams. The work will also improve safety for commuters and recreational users as well as commercial and service traffic, including school buses and emergency vehicles on the road also known as County Road 595. The first work phase should be finished by fall, followed by plans to apply chip seal to 21 miles of the road next year. Under an agreement with the Forest Service, the Western Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration is responsible for implementing and completing the project. “We are excited to break ground on this phase of the project and feel fortunate to complete needed work utilizing Recovery Act dollars,” said Gold Beach District Ranger Alan Vandiver.

5/10/2011 -- In North Carolina, a recent travel article on camping touted the Recovery Act-funded updated facilities at the popular North Mills River Campground on the Pisgah National Forest. Contractors added new restrooms and a new bathhouse, replacing outdated facilities that did not meet current standards and were difficult to maintain. The improved facilities are in the same locations but are now accessible, through concrete pathways, to people of all abilities. Workers also built a new Recovery Act-funded wastewater treatment plant for the recreation area, adding the finishing touches just in time for the coming camping season. The project work created much-needed jobs for local contractors, and the enhanced facilities will attract tourists to the area, further adding to the local economy.

5/9/2011 -- In Virginia, the City of Waynesboro recently removed storm-fragile pear trees located along a main thoroughfare and planted more resilient species as part of a Recovery Act-funded community forest enhancement project. A Forest Service Recovery Act grant to the Virginia Department of Forestry is helping Waynesboro and other communities within the Shenandoah Valley and Chesapeake Bay watersheds to fund projects that contribute to local water quality, increase tree canopy, enhance outdoor recreation opportunities, and provide employment for the green industry. The projects are also improving community aesthetics that people appreciate. “I like it that they’re adding new trees because it means there will always be trees here to enjoy,” said Valerie Rose, a daily visitor to Ridgeview Park, one of several locations in Waynesboro where workers have been planting new trees. Commercial arborists, landscape contractors, nurserymen, equipment rental contractors, and tree planters are benefitting from the ongoing work.

5/6/2011 -- In North Dakota on the Dakota Prairie Grasslands, contractors will soon begin Recovery Act-funded work to finish important construction projects that address recreation and waterway improvements following winter shutdown. Three historic buildings restored with new roofs and paint at a Denbigh Experimental Forest site last fall will get new sidewalks the last two weeks of May. Student groups and researchers as well as visitors will benefit from new interpretive signs outlining the site’s history. In June, workers plan to upgrade popular Buffalo Gap Campground’s 50 year-old water system by replacing a 10,000-gallon water storage tank and about 2,800 feet of underground water pipelines dating from the early 1970s. Visitors will experience better access at Williams Lake later this year when work to improve accessibility is finished. While the lake bottom dredging is complete, reconditioning the Works Progress Administration dam built in the 1930s, along with the emergency spillway, fishing platforms, and riprap placement will take place following spring runoff. In addition to supporting construction and manufacturing industries, the finished projects will indirectly help sustain North Dakota’s tourism economy.

5/5/2011 -- In Massachusetts, Recovery Act-funded work to mitigate the effects of the Asian Longhorn Beetle (ALB) epidemic is ongoing. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is using a Forest Service Recovery Act grant to provide training and jobs via Worchester’s Young Adult Foresters program to replace trees infested with ALB and maintain replanted trees. Next week the first class will graduate after receiving training in forestry as well as business skills, such as how to interview and apply for a job. Last fall DCR began replanting trees to replace the nearly 30,000 that have been cut down and removed from Worcester and surrounding towns to mitigate the beetle’s effects since the epidemic began in 2008. The new graduates will be working with the City of Worcester Forestry Department to maintain replanted trees daily through the summer and fall to help ensure they thrive in the efforts to reforest the city. To date, about 3,800 trees have been replanted. “The goal is to have an additional 5,000 in the ground by July,” said Shannon Williams, a DCR forester. The Young Adult Foresters program will include 45 members hired to plant trees daily during planting season. DCR hopes to have 15,000 trees planted and more than 200 young people participate in this valuable on-the-job training by the time the program ends next spring.

5/4/2011 -- On May 16, Forest Service officials will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Recovery Act–funded Monterey Ranger District office on the Los Padres National Forest in King City, California. Congressman Sam Farr, local Tribal representatives, county board members, King City officials, local elementary school students, and Smokey Bear are among those expected to attend the groundbreaking festivities. The new building will take the place of the original district office built in 1937 and the portable buildings district employees are using now. California contractors will start the project in earnest on May 17, putting several people on the payroll. Work on the new accessible building should be finished by fall 2012 and is designed with many features intended to save energy and maintenance costs.

5/3/2011 -- In Colorado, contractors will be working on Recovery Act-funded improvements at Green Mountain Reservoir beginning this summer. Project work may extend into 2012 at this popular camping, boating, and fishing destination for numerous visitors from local communities and the Denver area. Specifically, workers will build deceleration lanes along Colorado State Highway 9 leading to the reservoir and also construct approximately 1,000 linear feet of connector road as a part of relocating the intersection of Cow Creek South Campground to help resolve transportation safety concerns. Contractors will also build 13 new campsites in a new loop and two new campground host sites at the campground, which will be closed while work is underway in the interest of public safety. The project will provide jobs and ultimately improve visitors’ recreational experiences on the White River National Forest.

5/2/2011 -- In Rhode Island, six cities recently received the results of Forest Service Recovery Act-funded storm damage surveys to help managers plan before and after natural disasters. For approximately a year, Rhode Island Tree Council (RITree) Green Team workers conducted the Forestry Sustainability Project using Forest Service-developed software which predicts how much damage would result from a given storm and how much it would cost to clean up afterward. Survey results will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to get a quick handle on damage from major storms, resulting in more timely post-storm mitigation costs. Six individuals hired and trained by Rhode Island Tree Council (RITree) and collectively known as the Green Team conducted the surveys in the cities and towns of Cranston, Johnston, North Providence, Warren, Warwick, and Woonsocket. In addition to providing surveys for those cities at no cost to them, the project provided meaningful work for Green Team members, all who are Rhode Island residents with a keen interest in the environmental sciences and a desire to stay in the industry.

In Maine, the Town of Falmouth added a question to its June 14 ballot asking voters to approve $1.7 million for a new wood-burning boiler for the middle school that may be offset by a grant of up to $500,000 from the Maine Forest Service (MFS). Town officials applied for the Forest Service Recovery Act-funded grant last month. The new boiler is projected to save the school approximately $115,000 in fuel costs per year, in addition to using waste wood, a fuel source much closer to home. The boiler could also potentially heat the town hall. In the MFS’ third application round that ended late last month, $2.7 million was made available for the installation of wood-energy boilers to schools, hospitals, state, county, cities and towns, and tribal governments. So far, in two previous rounds, 11 grants were awarded to schools, universities, and medical centers around Maine for the installation of wood-energy boilers through the Recovery Act Wood-to-Energy Grants Program which is financed with Forest Service Recovery Act funds.

4/29/2011 -- In Alaska, Recovery Act-funded theatre upgrades at the popular Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center finished earlier this year are enhancing opportunities for the center’s approximately 500,000 annual visitors. The new automated theater system includes a projector capable of playing high-definition DVD and Blu-Ray productions; a surround-sound speaker system; touchpad operations; and a wide format, finer resolution screen. Upgrades to audio-visual equipment and interpretive displays are allowing people of all abilities to enjoy the unique natural and cultural wonders of the Alaskan landscape. Partners such as NASA and National Geographic have also added to the visual mix with displays showing the speed at which glaciers are melting as well as telescopes that allow visitors to view the local mountain goats. Located in Juneau, on the Tongass National Forest, the visitor center’s extended summer hours begin in May.

4/28/2011 -- In eastern California and western Nevada, Recovery Act-funded local contractors continue to restore the 2001 Martis Fire burn area that drains directly into the Truckee River. This runoff affects water quality in the Truckee watershed that supplies drinking water to Reno and Sparks, Nevada. The Nevada Department of Agriculture is using a Forest Service Recovery Act grant to hire contractors to replace flammable noxious weeds with native plants this spring to reduce the threat of wildfire and restore undeveloped and publicly accessible state and private lands adjacent to the Tahoe National Forest. The 14,500-acres Martis Fire left the region devoid of native vegetation, which resulted in reduced wildlife habitat, increased runoff, reduced water quality, and the spread of noxious weed species -- particularly musk thistle. Community partners including Washoe County, Nevada Land Conservancy, and California Department of Fish and Game are helping with the restoration effort that will benefit recreationists, wildlife, and the communities at large. The work should be finished by late fall.

4/27/2011 -- In Nevada, Washoe County Commissioners have received a report that outlines the ways their county has benefitted from Recovery Act funds from the various branches of the federal government. Included were Forest Service Recovery Act grants for work in urban forestry and fire ecosystem restoration in parks and open spaces and hazardous fuel reduction in various locations. The projects employ many local contractors and are sustaining or creating jobs for northern Nevadans. Work is ongoing with estimated completion dates for many projects before the end of the year. In addition to providing employment, the work is improving forest health and reducing wildland fire danger, thereby supporting public safety and enhancing recreation opportunities; restoring wildlife habitat; and improving water quality and quantity.

4/26/2011 -- In Washington, the Forest Service is seeking a vendor to run the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center restaurant following Recovery Act-funded window replacements made in 2010 to protect the facility from rapid deterioration. The visitor center has been closed since 2007 because of budget limitations, but in 2009 the Congressional Mount St. Helens Advisory Committee recommended having more tourist facilities along Spirit Lake Memorial Highway that leads to the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. If a restaurant vendor is located, the Discover Your Northwest nonprofit group would reinstate its contract to run a bookstore/gift shop, and the Forest Service would be able to stage special events in the visitor center. Forest Service officials are hopeful that a restaurant vendor can be in place in time for the 2011 summer season. Long known for generating additional revenue to local communities that provide lodging, food, and supplies to visitors and researchers, the monument has attracted multiple state and organizational partners.

4/25/2011 -- In Colorado, hazardous fuels reduction work at Chambers Lake Campground on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests is ongoing as part of a larger effort to address the mountain pine beetle epidemic throughout north central Colorado. Mountain pine beetles have killed a substantial number of trees in developed recreation sites in Larimer County, creating a hazardous fuels buildup that has increased wildfire and other safety hazards. A Recovery Act-funded contractor removed dead trees in late summer 2010, and the removal of a few more will finish the project in the coming weeks, in time for the campground’s early June opening. Project work at this and other recreation sites has been critical in allowing the Forest Service to address mountain pine beetle epidemic impacts and keep popular areas open to recreationists. Without Recovery Act funding, it is likely that some high-use sites would have been closed in the interest of public safety.

4/22/2011 -- On April 29, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and the Bayfield County Tourism and Recreation Department will host a groundbreaking ceremony to kick-off a Recovery Act-funded project to address safety and resource concerns at the Valhalla Recreation Area. Local firms will complete both the project design and construction on this project that includes changes to trail crossings, rehabilitation of the existing parking lot, and the development of a new parking area. All-terrain-vehicle riders, hikers, hunters, skiers, and snowmobilers participated in project planning sessions. “With the National Forest being such a large part of our community, it is extremely important to work together whenever possible to accomplish projects that are good for safe public access and enjoyment.” said Mary Motiff, Bayfield County tourism and recreation director. The engineering plans will be on display at the groundbreaking for the project due to be completed by early fall. Located in northern Wisconsin on the Washburn Ranger District, Valhalla is one of the Forest’s top signature sites.
 

4/21/2011 -- In Virginia, Recovery Act-funded contractors are finishing up work on George Washington and Jefferson National Forests’ (GWJ) Glenwood Horse Trail and Taskers Gap OHV Trail, just in time for spring visitors. Both projects are part of a larger effort to improve forest trails through some much-needed heavy maintenance such as re-establishing tread, brushing, and clearing; replacing water control measures such as dips and water bars; clearing culverts; and barricading user-created shortcuts at switchbacks. Though contractors are finishing these last two trails, Student Conservation Corps (SCA) crews and contractors completed Recovery Act-funded work on other parts of the forest trail system last summer and fall, including foot, equestrian, off -highway vehicle, and mountain bike trails. Trail bridges received maintenance or were replaced as needed. Project work is contributing to a sustainable trails network, enhanced visitor experiences, better signing, and improved public safety and watershed protection. “The Recovery Act is providing the GWJ with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore and improve popular, high-priority forest trails, in addition to providing jobs and long-term economic benefits,” said GWJ Recreation and Heritage Staff Officer Ted Coffman.

4/20/2011 -- In Arizona, Recovery Act-funded improvements to two Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests campgrounds that began last fall will be finished before the 2011 summer season ends. Last year’s work included removal and replacement of 1960s-era restrooms in Buffalo Crossing and Raccoon campgrounds located on the East Fork of the Black River Recreation Area. Contractors will soon build associated walkways to complete the project. The work is providing meaningful jobs while enhancing public health and safety and improving opportunities for people of all abilities to enjoy the area. The new restrooms comply with state and federal regulations, will reduce annual maintenance costs, and eliminate potential environmental concerns for the nearby Black River.

4/19/2011 -- In Alaska this summer, workers will build a Recovery Act-funded pedestrian bridge over the Placer River. This support of plans to create a network of world-class recreation/transportation opportunities for visitors to the Chugach National Forest and Kenai Peninsula communities through the Whistle Stop Project, a partnership between the Forest Service and Alaska Railroad Corporation. Located about 400 feet upriver from the railroad's Placer River bridge, the pedestrian bridge is a key connector on the Spencer to Grandview trail. A bridge helping to link the whistle stops is "a key component in the project," according to John Wolfe, executive director of the Alaska Mountain and Wilderness Huts Association, a non-profit committed to developing a system of linked, back country huts offering diverse wilderness experience and education opportunities to the general public. Forest Service Recovery Act funds will support the bridge work that should be finished before the fall and winter seasons’ snowfall begins. The project will add to existing business opportunities for outfitter/guides as well as the railroad while enhancing opportunities for people of all ages to recreate in Alaska’s great outdoors.

4/18/2011 -- In Arizona, Recovery Act-funded contractors recently finished removing dead and diseased trees that could fall at anytime in campgrounds and other developed recreation sites. Specialists trained in hazard tree identification and Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists had identified many of these hazard trees and alerted Forest Service managers about the work required to reduce potential danger. Combinations of drought, insects, and disease have killed some trees and weakened many more to the point that they had become threats to visitors at popular recreation facilities. Around 1,000 trees were removed on 355 acres of high-use recreation areas on the Alpine and Springerville ranger districts of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. Removing hazardous trees will reduce the likelihood of damage to recreation infrastructure and the possibility of injury to visitors. The project is located in one of the most economically depressed counties in Arizona, and local contractors were employed to complete the work.

4/15/2011 -- The Forest Service is using Recovery Act funds to gather forest condition data from approximately 1,000 sites in urban areas in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. The data set will be a local and regional resource to help understand the contributions of urban forests to ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water retention, energy savings, and residential quality of life. Researchers will hire field crews to gather information using Forest Service nationwide protocols that will result in a network of permanently located plots in urbanized areas that can be re-measured in the future. The study supports President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative by helping planners determine where to establish urban parks and green spaces and how to maintain them. The Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW) is collaborating with the Oregon Department of Forestry, California Polytechnic State University, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Hawaii Urban Forestry Council, and Davey Resource Group. “This project will help city planners improve the quality of life in American cities,” said project leader John Mills of the PNW’s Resource Monitoring and Assessment Program.

4/14/2011 -- In Puerto Rico, El Yunque National Forest visitors are benefitting from recently completed work to rehabilitate two trails leading to scenic La Mina Falls, a popular site for island visitors. Local contractors repaved the heavily used La Mina and Big Creek trails and repaired some drainage issues. Workers also repaired handrails and bridges along the two miles of trail. The completed work provided meaningful jobs and significantly reduced deferred maintenance while enhancing safety for the 1.2 million people that visit the Forest annually.
 

4/13/2011 -- This month the University of Central Florida (UCF) is planting approximately 50 native trees including cypress, pine, and palm species on its 1,400-acre East Orlando campus as the second phase of a Forest Service Recovery Act grant aimed at improving forest health. Project work began last September with the pruning and remediation of more than 100 young native hardwood trees inside the campus core. Next week a local contractor will begin planting the trees as part of UCF’s Arbor Day celebration. UCF’s landscaping staff will monitor and maintain the trees to ensure they survive and thrive. The grant supports UCF’s long-term landscaping goals, which include having a mixed-species urban forestry canopy and promoting the planting of native trees that play an important role in protecting Florida’s wildlife habitats. The trees will be planted at two campus retention ponds, improving air and water quality while increasing employment opportunities for arborists, landscape architects/designers, and nursery workers.

4/11/2011 -- In Washington, Forest Service Recovery Act funding is allowing the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to continue to put local contractors to work clearing hazardous fuels from private land in Skamania County. Those interested in removing fuels from private forested lands in a second phase of the Recovery Act-funded project can submit bids until May 15. DNR fire prevention managers are overseeing the work in regions of the state where catastrophic wildfire risk is high. During phase one, workers accomplished 20 acres of hazardous fuels reduction work in areas especially susceptible to destructive wildfire. Phase two work will consist of clearing vegetation, thinning and pruning trees, chipping, and disposing of debris by hand or machine on approximately 30 acres. Workers will help develop defensible space around residences in addition to fuel breaks.

4/8/2011 -- In South Dakota, Recovery Act-funded hazardous fuels reduction work that began last fall will soon resume following winter shutdown. Rapid City-based L&S Contracting will mechanically thin and masticate excess material on approximately 1,700 acres on the Black Hills National Forest Northern Hills Ranger District. Besides providing employment to the local community, the project reduces wildfire risk on National Forest System land adjacent to private land. Removing small-diameter trees from densely forested areas makes these areas more resistant to large, fast moving fires, thereby reducing risks to people and private property. Project work should be finished by September.

4/7/2011 -- In Maine, the Falmouth Town and School Board hope to win a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded grant from the Maine Forest Service (MFS) to replace two 50-year-old oil-burning furnaces at the middle school with a wood chip-burning boiler. "By converting the middle school to wood heat, we'll use 53,000 gallons less of oil," said School Board Finance Chairwoman Analiese Larson. The replacement boiler could save the school approximately $115,000 annually and would create a market for Maine-grown wood as well as direct and indirect jobs. If a new boiler is installed, there is a possibility it could also heat the nearby town hall by running pipes underground. In the MFS’s third application round that ended late last month, $2.7 million is available for the installation of wood-energy boilers to schools, hospitals, state, county, cities and towns, and tribal governments. So far, in two previous rounds, 11 grants have been awarded to schools, universities, and medical centers around Maine for the installation of wood-energy boilers through the Forest Service Recovery Act Wood-to-Energy Grants Program.

4/6/2011 -- Visitors to the Los Padres National Forest in California are noticing widespread wilderness trail improvements this spring because of Recovery Act-funded project work that created dozens of local jobs and opened up key wilderness trails that hadn't been maintained to Forest Service standards in over a decade. Workers rehabilitated 191 miles of wilderness trails in the Chumash, Garcia, Machesna Mountain, San Rafael, Santa Lucia, Sespe, and Ventana wilderness areas, many of which had been severely degraded and damaged by large landscape fires over the past several years. Heavy storms had also taken their toll on the trails. Now trail sections that had been difficult to traverse or closed to the public altogether are once again offering safe and enjoyable outdoor recreation opportunities for thousands of visitors annually, thus indirectly contributing to local economies. Santa Lucia District Recreation Officer Ken Kunert said, "The intent of the Recovery Act was to put people back to work and improve infrastructure on public lands, and we accomplished both."

4/5/2011 -- In Oregon, a local contractor is making important Recovery Act-funded repairs to the Upper Chetco River Bridge on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Also known as the Steel Bridge, the 40-year-old structure’s integrity was challenged when mass movement of an entire hillside crumbled the back concrete wall of an abutment which severely bent anchor bolts, damaged steel girders, forced the hanger assembly closed and pushed piers and abutment columns away from the river. Workers will remove the crumbling concrete abutment and some back slope above the road to take the pressure off of this seriously compressed bridge. They will build a new abutment at the east end of the bridge and repair bridge components to meet new standards. While Forest Service officials have closed the road until the work is finished in the interest of public safety, travelers will be able to access the area above the bridge as soon as the snow clears in late May by an alternate route that requires a high-clearance vehicle. When the road is re-opened in mid-summer, visitors will have safer passage on this scenic route that leads to a popular recreational rental and trails. The work will also ensure appropriate water flow for fish and other organisms while minimizing sedimentation and helping redirect flood water and debris.

4/4/2011 -- In Kentucky, two Forest Service Recovery Act-funded wood-to-energy projects will benefit Lyon County High School and Trigg County Hospital while creating jobs and reducing dependency on fossil fuels. New furnaces that use woody biomass technology will replace the current gas-fed boilers. Over the next two years workers will plan, design, and construct the projects in these two Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL) gateway communities. On-the-ground work should begin sometime in mid-summer after permit applications and other paper work is finalized. The projects are envisioned to create a market for trees typically of low value in traditional timber markets as well as other small-diameter wood such as limbs and tree tops that litter the forest. LBL officials hope the projects will serve as a demonstration of the wood-to-energy technology for other communities and plan to integrate biomass as a product in their timber sales, making it a profitable product to the logging industry. So far, project bids were accepted and a contractor has been selected.

4/1/2011 -- In Oregon, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are helping Ashland Fire & Rescue support work to lessen wildfire danger throughout Ashland. Participating groups such as homeowners’ associations (HOAs) can use the funds to trim trees, remove brush, chip vegetation on private and common property, transport and dispose of material, and other projects to reduce hazardous fuels around residential areas. Through the National Fire Protection Association's Firewise Communities program, Ashland Fire & Rescue will work with residents to design a neighborhood wildfire mitigation plan and Recovery Act funds will help pay to accomplish the work as outlined in that plan. Ali True, Ashland Fire & Rescue grants manager, said, “The response has been fantastic. This is a great way to get the word out about Firewise, and the money certainly encourages folks to participate.” Ashland Fire & Rescue will sign its first 30-acre grant agreement with an HOA next week and expects to get several hundred acres of work done before the program is over. HOAs can hire contractors to do the work, and smaller groups of neighbors can work with a crew the city of Ashland will hire this summer.

3/31/2011 -- In western North Carolina, the small community of Saluda appreciates its Recovery Act-funded sawyers and the forest health improvements they are making. The money came as part of a grant to the Land of Sky Regional Council via the Forest Service Southern Research Station. The grant is designed to provide short-term forest–industry jobs in a way that would generate lasting benefits to the industry. Seeing the benefit the two woods workers brought to local forest owners, the Saluda Land Trust raised enough money to hire a third woods worker. The effort involves thinning live trees as well as removing dead trees and invasive species such as kudzu so large trees can grow. Landowners are selling some of the cut trees as post and poles and supplying the excess to a small startup business that shaves the wood into coarse bedding that can be used for horse stalls. Some landowners are even getting a tax break for their forest improvements. Betsy Burdette, Tryon Daily Bulletin contributor and land trust member, said, “I am real impressed with the infrastructure used to provide the stimulus money. It is being put to good use.”

3/30/2011 -- In Mississippi, a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded program to combat cogongrass is accepting applications from private landowners who need help identifying and treating the noxious weed. The Mississippi Forestry Commission implemented the Mississippi Invasive Plant Control Program (MIPCP) to suppress the invasive plant species through specific strategies in targeted areas of Mississippi while allowing for job creation and retention. Project work is being implemented in phases, and during Phase 1 of MIPCP operations, landowners in Attala, Choctaw, Clay, Jasper, Kemper, Lauderdale, Leake, Lowndes, Neshoba, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Rankin, Simpson, Smith, Wayne, Webster and Winston counties can apply for herbicide application and monitoring services. Cogongrass spreads quickly and disrupts ecosystems, reduces wildlife habitat, and can decrease tree seedling growth and establishment. Currently the most effective approach to controlling and eradicating cogongrass infestation is with repeated chemical application, sometimes over several years.

3/29/2011 -- New fishing piers and improved accessibility to six of the most visited recreation area reservoirs on the Rio Grande National Forest in Colorado will provide additional opportunities for people of all abilities to catch trout. Along with purchase and installation of the piers, the Recovery Act-funded project is also creating hardened accessible trails. Colorado contractors built the piers with railings that conform to accessibility guidelines; previously only two of the Rio Grande’s 26 recreation reservoirs areas offered accessible fishing. This project is not only adding opportunities for physically challenged anglers on the national forest, but it will raise the number of accessible fishing areas across southwestern Colorado, lending diversity to the angling experience and increasing everyone’s opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. The contractor has just a few items on the accessible trails to finish on a couple of sites before all six locations are completed this spring. Key partner Colorado Division of Wildlife helped identify the highest priority sites to install the piers and will stock catchable fish in these areas. 

3/28/2011 -- At Grey Towers, the ancestral home of first Forest Service Chief Gifford Pinchot near Milford, Pennsylvania, Recovery Act-funded work will continue when spring weather arrives. Last fall contractors stopped important driveway reconstruction and other project work because of snow and freezing temperatures. Contractors hired for tasks such as rebuilding a stone garden wall and restoring the driveway surface with acrylic material that will mimic the original dirt road while addressing modern-day longevity, safety, and environmental concerns are waiting for three consecutive days of temperatures above 55 degrees to get back to work. In 2010 contractors and Job Corps program students finished several projects at the national historic site, including landscaping and painting, and some incomplete activities should be finished before the summer tourism season is well underway. The driveway project is one of the most critical for public, employee, and emergency vehicle access. Besides providing jobs and creating a smoother ride for visitors, the project will address erosion concerns and reduce annual maintenance costs while returning the impressive “Allee” entrance back to how it looked when Gifford and Cornelia Pinchot were in residence from the 1920s to about 1960.

3/25/2011 -- Over the past year in Florida, Forest Service Recovery Act funds allowed the Florida Division of Forestry and St. Lucie County's Environmental Resources Department to hire private contractors to mow firebreaks between preserves and their urban neighbors as a first step in reducing wildland fire risk. With the firebreaks in place, county preserve managers will be able to conduct prescribed burns in the coming weeks to further reduce wildfire risk and to enhance ecosystem restoration efforts. “This year we were able to coordinate efforts on two county preserves with a history of wildfire and adjacent to urban areas. This is not only an added benefit for our neighbors and private contractors, but will also aid the county’s prescribed fire initiative to enhance our local ecosystem for future generations and wildlife to enjoy,” said Mike Middlebrook, restoration biologist for St. Lucie County Environmental Resources. The work is part of multiple Recovery Act-funded projects designed to help the Forest Service and the State of Florida conduct wildfire prevention efforts throughout the state through prescribed fire, vegetation-fuel reduction, and education outreach.

3/24/2011 -- In Florida, Forest Service Recovery Act funds will help the City of Holmes Beach commemorate Arbor Day by planting 64 shade trees at the city’s gateway on April 29. While a local contractor will perform most of the work, the volunteer organization “Keep Manatee Beautiful” is among the partners who will help plant sable palms, live oaks, and other tropical species adjacent to a popular public beach and recreation area. City workers will supervise the tree planting and monitor the trees for three years to ensure survival. The Florida Division of Forestry received Forest Service Recovery Act funding to offer competitive grants to reforest public right-of-ways to stimulate economic activity in the nursery and landscaping sectors. Local communities are benefiting ecologically from the increase in canopy cover that will contribute to improved water and air quality and community aesthetics.

3/21/2011 -- On the National Forests in Mississippi, numerous local contractors are performing Recovery Act-funded mechanical fuels reduction work to provide high-risk communities increased protection from wildland fires and maintain forest resources. On the Bienville Ranger District, workers have treated over 2,500 acres and will reduce fuel on another 475 acres before September. On the De Soto Ranger District, contractors are using two stages of herbicide on 4,300 acres of brush to help protect forest resources such as threatened and endangered species habitat, cultural assets, and recreation areas that will be more easily defended in the event of a wildland fire by providing pre-established control lines and reduced fuel loadings. The stands being cleared also increase the effectiveness of prescribed fire applications to maintain healthy ecosystems. The work is supporting local economies through job creation and equipment and supply purchases.

3/18/2011 -- In Mississippi, work to replace 21 road bridges across the state’s six national forests using $4.8 million in Recovery Act funds continues. As of Mid-March, 14 bridges have been replaced; three bridges are under construction; and construction activities are scheduled to begin next week on the final four bridges. Mississippi engineering firms designed the bridges; Mississippi companies have been producing the concrete bridge components; and Mississippi contractors are installing them. The work on the National Forests in Mississippi planned for completion by August will significantly lower future maintenance costs and provide a safer, more useful transportation system in the years to come.

3/17/2011 -- The Clearwater National Forest in Idaho is working with the Nez Perce Tribe to address Nez Perce National Historic Trail maintenance needs using Recovery Act funds. The work is affording young Nez Perce Tribal members an opportunity to learn critical trail maintenance and bridge building skills, as well as training in first aid, defensive driving, and ATV and chainsaw operation. The four-person trail crew and their supervisor are performing important trail preservation activities and replacing segments of the Weitas puncheon boardwalk, which provides access across a fragile meadow along the trail. Last field season the crew spent long hours clearing numerous windfall trees, removing debris, naturalizing sawed logs to maintain visual integrity, cleaning waterbars, and working to maintain a historic feel. The crew also began tearing out old segments of the 390-foot puncheon bridge. When work resumes this spring, the workers will rebuild the structure and create a wider access. The crew will also install hand rails, making this portion of the trail more accessible and horse friendly. The trail work will help maintain this national landmark created in 1986 as part of the National Trails System Act, and forest visitors will benefit from improved recreation experiences.

3/16/11 -- In Oregon, the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW) is using Recovery Act funds to supply important work experience to journalism students to help the station tell Recovery Act project stories using new media. Mark Blaine of the University of Oregon (UO), an award-winning journalist with a strong interest in storytelling and new media, and PNW have jointly created the Economic Recovery Communications Project, an effort to utilize UO resources to develop integrated Recovery Act multi-media packages. One Recovery Act project on which UO students are focusing is PNW Scientist John Mills' baseline inventory of urban forest conditions in five western states. For this project, a team of students produced a package that includes documentary-style videos, an animated educational Web tool for understanding threats to urban trees, and accompanying text articles. The material focuses not only on research results but also gives the scientists an opportunity to talk about the importance of the research and why the Recovery Act is significant to PNW’s efforts. The package’s various components are well integrated and explain various facets of the project in informative and appealing ways. Even though the package is still in draft form, it has already demonstrated to PNW communications staff new possibilities for delivering science findings to a broad audience.

3/15/11 -- In North Carolina, a local contractor is replacing the 1960s-era wastewater treatment system that serves Flanner’s Beach Campground and the Neuse River Recreation Area on the Croatan National Forest. The Recovery Act-funded project includes a new gravity-fed leech field that will serve 40 campsites in addition to day users of the recreation area just west of Havelock on U.S. Highway 70. The construction area is currently closed to support public safety; however, when it opens later this spring, visitors will notice other Recovery Act-funded improvements such as new restroom facilities to accommodate people of all abilities. Besides providing jobs for the local community, the new septic system will comply with state and federal mandates while reducing health, safety, and environmental impacts.

3/14/11 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed adding the long-abandoned Blue Ledge copper mine in Siskiyou County, California that has been under Forest Service Recovery Act-funded remediation work to the Superfund National Priorities List. Work that began last summer to remove toxic waste material and reclaim the site through erosion control measures, topsoil replacement, and native vegetation restoration will continue through the coming summer. Erosion control structure maintenance and project effectiveness monitoring will continue for an additional three years. Seepage from the mine site located within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest’s Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District has been leaching toxic material into surface waters for over 100 years, affecting water quality in Joe Creek and the lower Elliott Creek watershed in Oregon. That stream ultimately flows into the Applegate Reservoir, a popular recreation area. The project is creating numerous jobs while also helping remove and monitor a legacy pollution source in the watershed.
 

3/11/2011 -- In Colorado, Forest Service Recovery Act funds are providing jobs and much-needed emergency passages by thinning vegetation along roads in the Southwest Highway 115 Fire Protection District in El Paso County. Dave Carpenter, owner of sub-contractor Tall Timbers Tree and Shrub Service, said, “The El Paso County project made it 100-percent easier this winter. Instead of employing two to three people this winter, I have been able to employ 10.” The need for the project was demonstrated during the 9,600-acre TA 25 Fire in April 2008 that began east of Highway 115, prompting residents across the highway to evacuate and confirming the need to reduce roadside vegetation. Narrow roads made evacuations difficult. Two-way traffic for residents and fire engines was not guaranteed, as vegetation obscured oncoming traffic and hugged the shoulders of the road. Some roads offered no alternative exit from the area. Crews started cutting in August 2010 to create 200-foot-wide, treated road corridors, and work has continued this winter. So far, about half of the 145-acre project along three roads has been completed.

3/10/2011 -- In western North Carolina where the 100-year-old Weeks Act established the first eastern National Forests, Recovery Act-funded improvements are helping reduce a heavy maintenance backlog. Seven of 23 Recovery Act-funded projects are complete, and most of the remaining 16 will be finished by June. Several projects underway are in the area known as the Cradle of Forestry, where early foresters such as Gifford Pinchot practiced scientific forest management. In the Pink Beds valley, workers will repair the roofs of historic buildings from that era. Rehabilitation of the popular Roan Mountain Trail, which includes replacement of a raised viewing platform in bad repair; the repaving of the Forest Discovery Trail at the Cradle of Forestry; and deferred maintenance activities on hiking, biking, equestrian, and off highway vehicle trails are all projects designed to improve visitor safety and access to the forest and reduce erosion while providing vital jobs during the current economic downturn.

3/9/2011 -- In Nevada, the Washoe County Commission recently approved an agreement with the Sierra Business Council of Truckee to oversee a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded project to rehabilitate areas destroyed in the June 2001 Martis Fire. Since the fire, thistle has invaded areas near the river, affecting water quality, wildlife habitat, and the recreational experience along the river and reservoir shorelines. Work involving aerial seeding and spraying for noxious weeds is scheduled to begin soon in the project area along the Truckee River between Verdi and Hirschdale. Over three years, the project is expected to restore more than 4,000 acres burned near the Truckee River in Washoe County and Nevada County, California on undeveloped and publicly accessible state and private lands adjacent to the Tahoe National Forest. The Truckee River provides drinking water for the communities of Reno and Sparks. Replacing noxious weeds with native plants will help reduce fire risk while helping to ease high unemployment in the area.

3/8/2011 -- At Timberline Lodge on the Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon, Recovery Act-funded project work accomplished in 2010 is just in time for the lodge’s 75th anniversary, the celebration of which will span the next several months. Over two million visitors annually are benefitting from the $4.2 million in improvements to the site, which is a National Historic Landmark created in the 1930s during the Great Depression as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. Workers will complete the Recovery Act-funded renovations when weather permits in spring by replacing the day lodge roof and improving the potable water system. The restored facilities will enhance Oregon’s tourism industry while preserving a treasured historical landmark.

3/7/2011 -- In Alabama, a three-year Forest Service Recovery Act-funded project to control cogongrass continues through the Alabama Cogongrass Control Center (ACCC), whose mandate is to control the federally listed invasive weed. The ACCC recently announced that enrollment for landowners who wish to apply for help identifying and treating cogongrass infestations on their property is now open. ACCC-selected vendors have been scouting for cogongrass on enrolled private properties, covering every county in the state, and will continue to document locations throughout the winter and spring. Recovery Act-funded efforts to eradicate cogongrass that began in 2009 are expected to accelerate during the 2011 field season that will begin in June. ACCC Communications Director Stephen Pecot has been working to heighten the public’s awareness concerning the program by presenting information at natural resource meetings and conferences. Pecot most recently spoke at the Alabama Vegetation Management Society's annual meeting in Tuscaloosa on March 1.

3/4/2011 -- The Maine Forest Service, under the Maine Department of Conservation, recently announced it will accept applications for wood-to-energy conversion projects for public buildings through March 24. In this third application round, $2.7 million will be available for the installation of wood-energy boilers to schools, hospitals, state, county, cities and towns and tribal governments. So far, 11 grants have been awarded to schools, universities, and medical centers around Maine for the installation of wood-energy boilers through the Recovery Act Wood-to-Energy Grants Program financed with U.S. Forest Service Recovery Act funds in two previous rounds. State officials plan to announce awards as soon as possible after the application period closes and will only consider shovel-ready projects that would create or retain jobs.

Earlier this week contractors completed Recovery Act-funded work to close the World's Fair Mine adit located in the small town of Patagonia near Tucson, Ariz., on the Coronado National Forest. Workers installed a series of mine plugs inside the adit to seal the portal outlet to eliminate human entry. Situated within the Alum Gulch Canyon watershed that drains into Patagonia Lake, the adit from the mine first worked by Spanish miners in 1853 was discharging acidic water from its portal. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Forest Service developed the project to protect public health and safety. The extensive project provided meaningful work and will enhance local water quality and protect visitors from hazards associated with mine entry.

3/3/2011 -- More than $1 million worth of much-needed renovation work to the 30-year-old Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) headquarters in Asheville, N.C., is nearly complete. The Recovery Act-funded project has meant work for several contractors and dozens of their employees as they weatherized and upgraded the building and installed new energy-efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment along with a new lighting system and low-flow water fixtures. SRS Engineer Mark McDonough estimates the building’s overall energy costs may be reduced by as much as 35 percent because of this project, and the building will soon be certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings program. In addition, changes to the building’s finishes, flooring, ceiling, and walls will make it more attractive to employees and visitors. Dennis Boone of Dot Construction, the main contractor, said the work “gave us the opportunity to employ up to 50 people on this particular project with all our subcontractors and our own people” as well as gain a foothold in the Asheville market for future work opportunities. 

3/2/2011 -- In Utah, contractors recently completed restoring the Pine Valley Guard Station to provide a year-round cabin rental opportunity for Dixie National Forest visitors. Recovery Act-funded improvements to the structure, which was built in 1935, began last May and included exterior drainage and erosion control, an accessible restroom, and electrical system updates. Workers also removed lead-based paint and repainted the building inside and out; repaired doors, windows, and historic cabinetry; and replaced flooring and the wood-shingle roof. Forest personnel hope to have the property ready for visitors soon. The area is a popular destination for many visitors from Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. Including the guard station in the Intermountain Region’s Rustic Cabin Rental Program will enhance tourism opportunities and indirectly support the local economy.

3/1/2011 -- On March 15, researchers will present the Recovery Act-funded Integrated Landscape Assessment Project (ILAP) at the Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, and Natural Resources R&D Roundtable in Washington, D.C., an event targeting high-level federal government agency officials involved in agriculture, food, nutrition, and natural resources research, as well as representatives of key scientific societies, universities, and the agricultural industry. Researchers from the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, the Institute for Natural Resources, and Oregon State University College of Forestry collaborated on the project that won national recognition and includes data and tools to answer questions about wildlife habitats; fuels and fire; climate change; community economic option; biomass; and carbon sequestration. ILAP examines both current conditions and potential consequences of different management activities and provides politically neutral analyses that allow natural resource managers to consider alternative management approaches and policy scenarios. In 2009, the project received Forest Service Recovery Act funding to create and retain jobs, foster a green economy, and reduce fire and fuel hazards, and now supports several workers in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and New Mexico.
 

The Forest Service monitors program accomplishments achieved through Recovery Act funding using measures such as "the number of acres treated to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire" and “miles of trail maintained to standard.” As a result of the Recovery Act, over 510,670 acres have been treated to reduce wildfire risk; over 9,100 miles of trail and 14,850 miles of roads have been maintained; and 847 fuels reduction projects have been funded on nonfederal lands through February 28.
 

2/28/2011 -- In Colorado, the San Juan Public Lands Center has hired five military veterans who worked on the San Juan last season through the Recovery Act-funded Veterans Green Corps (VGC). Three of the new firefighters will work for the Columbine District, and two more will work for the Dolores and Pagosa Springs districts beginning this season. For the past two seasons the VGC has used Forest Service Recovery Act funds to empower veterans as they re-enter civilian life and work to reduce wildland fuels and improve trails on the San Juan and Rio Grande national forests. In 2010 the program supported approximately 100 positions in forest management for veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas, and this winter VGC crews have joined other fire crews in burning slash piles on the San Juan. The VGC will continue fulfilling the Recovery Act mission this coming field season by creating jobs and stimulating the economy. At the same time the program is accomplishing many acres of non-mechanical healthy forest treatments.

2/25/2011 -- In Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Borough, people are obtaining free firewood through a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded spruce beetle mitigation project that employs local loggers to cut and deck the wood on access roads at Baycrest Hill. Free permits available at the Kenai Peninsula Borough annex office allow people to collect up to 15 cords of free firewood per household annually. The hazardous fuels reduction work is part of an effort to reduce fire danger in communities within the wildland-urban interface while providing vital jobs. For example, the funds are supporting the marshal at the firewood site, who keeps the gathering orderly by directing traffic, watching to make sure chainsaws are running safely, and even helping to load wood. At the Baycrest site, 100 percent of the dead spruce trees will be removed from 41 acres, yielding about 500 cords of firewood. Next fall, workers will burn remaining slash. While many logging roads will be left to re-vegetate and replanted with trees if funding permits, the borough has been working with the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club to identify some roads as ski trails, adding to local winter recreation opportunities and indirectly boosting the local economy.

2/24/2011 -- Near Spearfish, South Dakota, a logging firm, supported by Forest Service Recovery Act funding, is reducing hazardous fuels on acres of dense forest on private land adjacent to homes in the Mountain Plains 2 subdivision. The work on the west side of Mountain Plains 2 is part of a larger thinning plan around the development that has just one road in and out and heavy pine forest all around. "I look down there now and see something we could manage in a fire," Joe Lowe, director of the state Division of Wildland Fire Suppression, said as he stood on a ridge overlooking the site near the mouth of Spearfish Canyon. "I'd much rather take on a fire where we have a chance of defending more homes. This is the perfect use for those federal funds.” The work is providing meaningful jobs while treating more than 350 acres on federal, state, and private lands before the project is finished.

2/23/2011 -- In New Mexico, Forest Service Recovery Act funding is helping efforts to rebuild the Mexican Canyon Trestle, a landmark of the Sacramento Mountain's railroad and logging history, and improving visitor access, recreational viewing and interpretive opportunities. Individuals and community groups from southern New Mexico and west Texas have also supported the multi-year project with money, labor, and logistical assistance, and the trestle stabilization phase of the multi-phase project is finished. In March, workers will begin building a new entrance and parking area for the 1.4 mile-long Osha Trail (just across the road from the trestle), and additional work scheduled to start in April includes improvements to U.S. Highway 82, which is adjacent to the trestle. Recovery Act funds will support construction of the new highway lane, parking area, a walkway with interpretive signs, and a viewing platform with benches. Built in 1899 to access forest timber, the Mexican Canyon Trestle was abandoned in 1947 and until recently has stood frozen in time with few changes and no maintenance. Besides providing jobs, this project involves a highly visible tourist attraction that will help sustain and improve revenue to the many small businesses in the village of Cloudcroft.

2/22/2011 -- The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is accepting bids until March 10, 2011, from contractors interested in clearing wildfire fuels from private forested areas southeast of the city of Glenwood in Klickitat County in southeastern Washington. Forest Service Recovery Act funding is allowing DNR fire prevention managers to award and oversee contract work in regions of the state with the highest catastrophic wildfire risk. Generally, the work consists of clearing vegetation, thinning and pruning trees, chipping, and disposing of debris by hand or machine on private lands. So far, the DNR has facilitated completion of 90 acres of hazardous fuels reduction in areas surrounding the Glenwood Highway. A local contractor completed the job and kept four to ten workers employed, according to the DNR. Crew size for the 35-plus acres up for bid now should be similar. The DNR hopes the potential bidder will be able to start in April and finish by October. Private landowners have been very supportive of this project.

2/18/2011 -- A non-profit; the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP) is using Forest Service Recovery Act funds to expand its wildfire preparedness services to help Colorado communities address forest health and infestation problems exacerbated by recent insect epidemics in the state. To date, seven community wildfire protection plans (CWPPs) have been completed, and five more are in progress. CUSP is helping communities convert concepts described in existing CWPPs to tangible projects on the ground. For example, a 2010 wildfire mitigation project involving 11.5 acres on Teller County Catamount Ranch Open Space land extended a 2008 tree thinning project and will reduce the potential growth of a wildfire near Catamount Institute buildings. Help the Needy, a Teller County non-profit organization, processed the cut trees into firewood and provided another service to the county. CUSP thinned a total of 355 acres using Recovery Act funding in 2010 and is implementing additional projects this year. To date, the grant has allowed CUSP to create four in-house positions, utilize the services of five private contractors, and reach out to additional communities in Douglas, El Paso, Park, and Teller counties.

2/17/2011 -- The Maine Forest Service (MFS) is asking for comments about the application process for Forest Service Recovery Act-funded grants that support the cost of installing wood-energy boilers in public buildings such as schools, hospitals, and other tribal or local government buildings. The (MFS) expects to begin taking applications for the third and final round of funding on February 23. Funds are targeted primarily towards rural, economically depressed counties. “We want to make the application process as clear as possible and to provide guidance to potential applicants,” said Thomas C. Wood, Maine Forest Service senior planner. “To make that possible, we would like to hear all comments and questions from interested parties in order to refine the application process.” So far the program has provided money for ten schools and one hospital selected in the two previous rounds held since funds became available in 2009. Donald J. Mansius, Maine Forest Service acting state forester, said, “Local land owners, woods workers, and truckers all benefit from having local customers for their product, and schools benefit from an abundant, renewable energy supply at a reduced cost."

2/16/2011 -- In John Day, Oregon, Ochoco Lumber’s new biomass plant began producing pellets thanks in part to Forest Service Recovery Act funds. The plant created 11-15 new full-time jobs and supports the retention of others at the company’s existing sawmill to help combat the region’s high unemployment rate. “The huge benefit is the retention aspect of having the facility there. It enhances the viability of the 80-plus jobs at the sawmill,” said Rick Minster, a business development officer for Business Oregon, the state’s economic development arm. The facility will allow the company to turn material collected through stewardship contracts into fuel to be sold around the state. Ochoco President Bruce Daucsavage sees the new plant as a valuable addition. “It fits in beautifully to what we do because now we have a facility that can take this type of material. It’s going to help us increase forest health, reduce fire risk, and get some timber off these contracts,” said Daucsavage. In addition to the $4.9 million Forest Service Recovery Act grant that helped finance the new plant, Ochoco also has Forest Service Recovery Act-funded stewardship contracts to maintain forest health throughout the state.

2/15/2011 -- Beginning February 15, for four consecutive Tuesdays, the Land-of-Sky Regional Council (LOSRC) will host evening workshops throughout western North Carolina for landowners and forest producers on how to generate income from forest lands. LOSRC will also hold a day-long event on the topic on March 12. Open to the public, the workshops are part of a Forest Service Recovery Act grant LOSRC received to create a cooperative marketing network in western North Carolina to help forest-based business owners improve their marketing skills and production methods. Potential participants can get more information and register online at www.wncforestproducts.wordpress.com/events. LOSRC is a non-profit, voluntary association of local governments that manages regional projects and provides services to its members in the areas of planning, economic, and community development since 1966.

2/14/2011 -- Forest Service Recovery Act funding is allowing the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to partner with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to reduce wildfire threat in the pine barrens, heathlands, and grasslands of southeastern Massachusetts. The DCR and TNC are training municipal fire service personnel, increasing fire planning in high-risk areas, and helping develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans. The two partners will conduct 12 courses by June 30 to train 150 students, including municipal firefighters, and will educate 500 elementary school students through 20 fire prevention programs. The DCR and TNC will also carry out prescribed burns on 1,700 acres of DCR land and 65 acres of private lands in southeastern Massachusetts, helping reduce wildland fire risk for 33 towns. The activities delivered through this partnership are fulfilling Recovery Act expectations by creating jobs and reducing hazardous fuels. The program is funding seasonal fire positions as well as contractor jobs in addition to retaining a few private sector jobs to support mechanical fuel removal and ecosystem restoration work.

2/11/2011 -- In northern California, snowmobilers and other winter recreationists are benefitting from Recovery Act-funded improvements to popular recreation areas on the Lassen National Forest. Work completed last summer through a local construction firm included asphalt repair and placement on roads and parking lots accessing snow play areas and snowmobile parks, contributing to public safety and easier access. “We are pleased to be able to improve the condition of the most important winter recreation sites on the forest for our many visitors," said Lassen National Forest Supervisor Jerry Bird. The improvements created valuable jobs and will enhance the local tourism economy in the long term. The refurbished parking areas are located at Swain Mountain, Morgan Summit, and Eskimo Hill. Swain Mountain offers 60 miles of groomed trails and provides direct access to other trail systems on the forest. Morgan Summit, also a snowmobile area, allows visitors access to 77 miles of groomed trails. Eskimo Hill is popular among sledders, tubing enthusiasts, and cross-country skiers.

2/10/2011 -- At its annual awards ceremony, the Colorado Youth Corps recognized a partnership with the Colorado State Forest made possible through Forest Service Recovery Act funding. In summer 2010, five youth corps crews provided labor as part of multi-year fuels mitigation projects in six Colorado state parks and on National Forest System lands. Fuels reduction work took place at Pearl Lake State Park and Steamboat Lake State Park in Routt County, Sylvan Lake State Park in Eagle County and the State Forest State Park in Jackson County. Each of these parks is dealing with the aftermath of the mountain pine beetle epidemic in lodgepole pine. Fire easily consumes beetle-killed trees that may also have rot in the tree base and roots that pose a safety risk to visitors. The 18- to 25-year-old trained sawyers are supporting public safety while earning high school or college credits and an AmeriCorps Education Award to pay for college, trade school, or student loans while learning about natural resource management. The crews will return to the state parks and national forests as their contract extends into June 2012.

2/4/2011 -- In California, the Forest Service Recovery Act-funded cleanup of an abandoned Air Force base on Mt. Laguna on the Cleveland National Forest was recently featured on a San Diego news channel. KUSI television news journalist Michael Turko has been pushing for the base cleanup for more than two years. “Even congressmen said it was too expensive and not worth the effort. But finally, after a quarter century of rot and disgrace, the demolition crews are moving full speed ahead...and it's been a long time coming!” said Turko. A local construction firm has been at work since September 2010 tearing down the 20 buildings on the 45-acre site and removing hazardous materials such as asbestos and toxic mercury. This project will also recycle thousands of tons of concrete and steel from the base that was once the site of a cold war radar station. The public may be able to enjoy the view of the Salton Sea from the site as early as this summer when the clean-up is finished and a public overlook is built near the Pacific Crest Trail.

2/3/2011 -- In Alabama, a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded project to locate and eradicate cogongrass has been underway since last spring to halt the advancement of one of the top ten most invasive weeds in the world.The Alabama Cogongrass Control Center reported the grant had facilitated herbicide treatment of over 2,300 locations in seven counties by the time the spraying season ended in late October 2010. As of mid-January, 20 contractors are now scouting for and mapping additional cogongrass infestations across the state for treatment in the future as funds permit. Each scout covers anywhere from one to five counties, and each property takes an hour to several days to fully examine. The center is continuing the process of evaluating and selecting landowner applicants for grant-funded treatments during the coming field season. Cogongrass has spread to epidemic proportions in parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Unchecked, cogongrass will dominate the southern landscape, turning a dynamic and diverse ecosystem into a monoculture unsuitable and unproductive for multiple-use objectives such as recreation; wildlife habitat; hay and sod production; timber; and biodiversity conservation. 

2/2/2011 -- The Nebraska National Forest used Recovery Act funds to hire local contractors to upgrade campgrounds and a historic fire tower on the Bessey Ranger District, making them accessible to more visitors and addressing health and safety concerns. Final landscaping will complete the project as soon as winter ends, allowing the historic Scott Fire Tower Lookout and the campsites to be open to the public this spring. Improvements include reconstructing campsites to accommodate today's larger recreational vehicles, new camping opportunities, and new, accessible showers and restrooms in the primary complex. Workers also built new sidewalks. Many of the sites had not been improved since their original construction in the 1960s.”The public is especially excited about being able to visit the fire tower again,” said Kim Earney of the Nebraska National Forest. The work has provided meaningful jobs and contributes to the state’s tourism economy.

2/1/2011 -- The Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW) has begun gathering forest condition data from approximately 1,000 sites in urban areas in five Western states (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington) using Recovery Act funds. The project uses Forest Service nationwide Forest Inventory and Analysis Program protocols and will result in a network of permanently located plots in urbanized areas that can be re-measured in the future. The PNW is collaborating with the Oregon Department of Forestry, California Polytechnic State University, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Hawaii Urban Forestry Council, and Davey Resource Group. It is the first time systematic urban forest inventory statistics are being collected at this scale. As climate change occurs, scientists, managers, and planners will appreciate having a baseline of urban forest conditions. The data set will be a local and regional resource to assist in understanding the contributions of urban forests to ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water retention, energy savings, and quality of life for residents. Monitoring will help to determine if and how urban forests are adapting to changing conditions and might point to potential mitigations. Work on the initial plot installation will continue through 2012; a large amount of data gathering is planned for 2011 with significant additional jobs expected as the project ramps up this spring.

1/31/2011 -- In southern California on the Angeles National Forest, firefighters and recreationists will benefit from water quality improvements through Recovery Act funds that are allowing workers to replace five above ground water tanks either damaged during the 2009 Station Fire or that have deteriorated over time. The Forest Service has awarded a contract to replace the potable water tanks with fire-resistant concrete tanks to a California firm for work that should be finished by May. Another California company will enhance security by fencing tank perimeters. One fire-damaged tank is located at the Charlton Flats Recreation Area on the Los Angeles River Ranger District. Other tanks scheduled for replacement are at fire stations, where the tanks will be replaced with models twice as large in order to enhance water quantity for firefighting and other needs. The work is providing meaningful jobs while reducing future maintenance costs.

1/28/2011 -- In Oregon, two sno-parks near Santiam Pass are running smoothly this winter, thanks to a Recovery Act-funded paving project completed last summer. The McKenzie River Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest used stimulus funds to take care of cracking asphalt at the Ray Benson and Little Nash sno-parks. Sno-parks offer access to trails where recreationists can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. If the deteriorating asphalt had not been addressed, eventually the parking areas could not be plowed, thus cutting off access to winter recreationists. Recovery Act funding allowed the Forest Service to hire a local contractor to overlay asphalt at both locations. The Oregon Department of Transportation plows the areas under a cooperative agreement with the Forest Service and is funded by the Oregon Sno-Park permit program. “With competing priorities for limited funds, finding dollars to reinvest into pavement infrastructure is challenging, so this project was important for preserving and extending the life of these long-term investments,” said Willamette National Forest Recreation Officer Stacey Forson. Summer recreationists will benefit from the work as well, especially at the popular Ray Benson site, a year-round facility at the heart of a popular summer and winter recreation area.

1/27/2011 -- In Colorado, Forest Service Recovery Act funding is helping the 3,840-acre Perry Park Ranch subdivision contribute to their 10-year effort as a Firewise©* community by working with the local fire protection district to reduce wildland fire risk. Perry Park’s Larkspur Fire Protection District hired an 11-person fuels mitigation crew with a Recovery Act grant from the Colorado State Forest Service. The Larkspur crew began removing fuel hazards in Perry Park this past summer, and work is ongoing with a smaller crew this winter. The entire crew will return as early as April to ensure the project can be completed before next fall. This winter, Perry Park is also burning piles of branches generated from the fire mitigation work. Community leaders see this as an opportunity to introduce residents to the beneficial effects of fire and the concept that fire can help protect what they value when everyone does his or her share. Later this year, they will host a county emergency event simulation that will test many of their Firewise actions. 

1/26/2011 -- In California, Recovery Act-funded cleanup is almost complete at a former military missile site on the Angeles National Forest. The Forest Service contracted with a California firm to demolish and clean up debris from burned-out buildings at a five-acre area that once housed a Nike missile site in the Barley Flats area. The site was in military service until the early 1960s and later used as a Los Angeles County Probation Department work camp until 1992. The 20 aging buildings could not be retrofitted economically, and many of the structures contained hazardous materials including asbestos, lead paint, mercury, and chlorofluorocarbons. Additionally, the buildings were heavily damaged in the 2009 Station Fire. Workers have finished demolishing the building remains and hauled off the debris in trucks to return the site to its natural state. Project work began in September 2010, and completion is expected by the end of January.

1/25/2011-- In New Jersey, the Division of Parks and Forestry is using Forest Service Recovery Act funds to hire loggers to drop trees killed by the gypsy moth. In Brendan T. Byrne State Forest and Parvin State Park, New Jersey residents are being offered permits to cut up and cart away as much as six cords of the felled trees for $20 a cord. Besides providing logging jobs and inexpensive firewood for the public, logging efforts have removed hazardous trees endangering visitors on popular roads and at picnic areas, cabins, camping sites, and interpretive centers. The program has been very popular, and state forest managers say the firewood cutters have almost finished taking the trees dropped at Brendan T. Byrne, and firewood will be available at Parvin in February.

1/24/2011-- In California, a local firm has been hired to repair a deteriorating bridge on the Angeles National Forest using Recovery Act funds. The Camp Colby Bridge, a 50-year-old “Bailey” steel girder bridge spanning Big Tujunga Creek, had one-inch gaps in the asphalt-and-wood decking and tar coming loose due to deterioration from years of vehicle crossings and was further damaged by the 2009 Station Fire. Work began in mid-November 2010, and completion is expected by March. MGP Construction out of Upland, California, is replacing the deck with an upgraded steel-grated material, spot painting, and installing new yellow and black reflective markers at each end of the bridge. About a third of the bridge was fire damaged, so workers will sand and repaint the bridge’s metal surfaces to match the previous green color. The Camp Colby Bridge is one of several being replaced using stimulus funds on 12 national forests throughout California. The complete project includes replacement or repair of structurally unsound bridge decks and railings and painting of steel structures and approach repairs to improve public safety and public land access while protecting the natural environment that surrounds the bridges. 

1/21/2011 -- Last year in western Colorado, a Forest Service Recovery Act grant through the Colorado State Forest Service allowed the struggling Delta Timber Company to retool and thereby diversify the type of lumber products it is able to produce. Fifteen full-time employees laid off in 2009 were rehired, and currently around 40 people work for the company. While the organization still struggles because of the downturn in the home construction industry, Recovery Act funds have helped the mill to more than double in size, absorbing work from other mills that have closed. Now the company is one of the largest locally owned businesses and one of the largest employers in the area. “We look at those monies coming back into our community. They [the timber company employees] are shopping with our local merchants, you know, they buy their groceries, their fuel, everything. Their taxes come to our city. And that's what helps Delta thrive,” said Linda Sanchez, who heads the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce.

01/20/2011 -- The Forest Service is continuing to employ young people to complete Recovery Act-funded trail work on southern California trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail. In August 2010, modified agreements with the Student Conservation Association, California Conservation Corps, and San Bernardino National Forest Association’s Urban Youth program enabled trail maintenance with completion planned in December. However, recent heavy rains delayed activities for a time. Work will be underway again as soon as the damage is assessed and it is safe for the crews to work. These trail projects employ disadvantaged youth by partnering with several organizations including the Pacific Crest Trail Association. The project is not only providing work opportunities to youth from some of the poorest regions of the state but is also repairing trails hit hard by the flooding that has gotten national media attention in recent months. The work is enhancing visitor safety while supporting the local economy.

1/19/2011 -- In Puerto Rico, the El Yunque National Forest is working in partnership with Centro Para la Conservacion del Paisaje (CCP) to accomplish vital improvements to the Rio Espiritu Santo Watershed. The Recovery Act-funded project includes reforestation work to expand the existing endangered Puerto Rican Parrot (Amazona vittata) breeding habitat and debris clean-up along stream banks and above several river dams to restore appropriate stream flow and improve aquatic species health in the watershed area. A local nursery is providing native tree and plant materials to support the reforestation work. Work is underway on all facets of the project, which should be complete by August. Through the partnership, CCP is working with private landowners to encourage them to take an active part in watershed conservation initiatives along the boundaries of the Rio Espiritu Santo watershed, one of the El Yunque National Forest’s critical watersheds. Streams flowing through El Yunque’s watersheds provide 25 percent of the water consumed by Puerto Rico’s San Juan metropolitan area as well as much of the water used by the population of the island’s eastern end. The work is providing meaningful jobs while ensuring maintenance of watersheds so crucial to the island’s residents and visitors.
*The “Centro para la Conservación del Paisaje” (CCP) is a Non-Government Organization that supports and advances environmental and forest landscape conservation and management projects.

1/18/2011 -- In Alaska, winter recreationists are able to enjoy an expanded series of trails in the vicinity of the Mendenhall Glacier that Recovery Act funds helped become an interconnected system that is now more capable of supporting a variety of winter recreation activities. Completed this fall, the Trail of Time is a new loop that highlights both the beauty of the Tongass National Forest and area historical relics. In October, a Juneau-based business designed and built a concrete staircase south of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, another addition to the trail system. The staircase, which sits at the site of an old powerhouse, creates a link between the Trail of Time, Powerline, and Under Thunder trails, ultimately connecting these popular, and formerly separate, routes to each other as well as a multitude of other trails that wind through public lands in the area. Previously, trying to cross between these trails meant negotiating a treacherous jumble of boulders and slick bedrock.

1/14/2011 -- In northern California, Recovery Act-funded work is underway to reduce acid mine drainage into Lake Shasta. A century ago, area mining activities left many abandoned tunnels and mine workings that are discharging metals such as cadmium, zinc, and copper, affecting water quality and habitat. Contractors are building a passive biological treatment system at the abandoned Golinsky Mine in Shasta County on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The contaminated water is being piped into a 120-foot by 80-foot earthen treatment cell filled with organic material, such as wood chips, rice hulls, compost, hay, and limestone, which creates a sulfate-reducing bacteria. The resulting chemical process reduces the water’s acidity to improve watershed health, benefiting public safety and natural resources. The project, which is projected to be complete by June, includes contracts to two companies for environmental mitigation and oversight.

1/13/2011 -- In California, Forest Service Recovery Act funds were used to purchase equipment to modernize a coal processing power generator and reconfigure the facility to utilize renewable woody biomass as the only fuel source. During construction, over 50 skilled and unskilled jobs are being created at the Buena Vista Biomass Power (BVBP) facility. When the plant is operational, it is anticipated that approximately 90 jobs will be created, including 20 full-time jobs at the site to operate and maintain the facility. The project will provide improved air quality, reduced landfill waste, a market for hazardous forest fuels, economic development, a carbon neutral footprint, and contribution to the tax base. Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, and Siskiyou counties will benefit from this project with an expected completion in late July. The BVBP will be a long-term sustainable biomass power generation facility expected to generate enough renewable energy to sustain approximately 16,000 homes through consumption of woody biomass fuel from nearby forests.

1/12/2011 -- Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Borough is one step closer to reducing fuels in the wildland-urban interface and establishing new forests on approximately 1,900 acres of private land while providing meaningful jobs, thanks to Forest Service Recovery Act funds. Last week, bids closed for propagation of 500,000 Lutz spruce seedlings that will be planted on 125 parcels ranging in size from seven to 100 acres after flammable grasses are removed this summer. Generated from seeds collected on the peninsula, the trees will return to Kenai well-fed, so they'll grow faster than a normally-born tree for about a year, helping them to take root in the area and overshadow the grass. The reforestation effort started this past summer with the creation of some community wildfire protection plans also funded by the Recovery Act. Other parts of the bundle that are bringing jobs to support the local economy include a fuels reduction project to remove hazardous trees along road corridors and another to remove fuels from state park lands.

1/11/2011 -- In Colorado, Forest Service Recovery Act funds helped reduce wildand fire risk in Boulder, Gilpin, Grand, and Larimer county wildland-urban interface areas earlier this past fall and winter. The seven project areas had high or very high wildfire risk ratings and existing community wildfire protection plans (CWPPs). As autumn 2010 passed, three of the four counties evacuated residents due to human-caused wildfires, and three projects were within a mile of the fire perimeters.

1/10/2011 -- On the Plumas National Forest in California, Recovery Act-funded projects to improve recreation sites are underway. In the Cottonwood Springs Campground, a design-build contract to replace the water distribution system and demolish three restroom facilities and build two restrooms and one shower/restroom facility began this past field season. Construction is almost complete and will be finished following work shut-down during the 2010-2011 winter season. In the Big Cove Campground, workers will demolish three restroom facilities and build two restrooms and one shower/restroom facility. Work in the Big Cove Campground will begin in spring 2011 following completion of work at Cottonwood Springs Campground. The improvements will enhance visitor enjoyment for people of all abilities.

1/7/2011 -- On January 6, officials gathered at the Poland Regional High School/Bruce M. Whittier Middle School for the installation of the first wood-to-energy boiler in Maine financed primarily by federal Recovery Act funds. In August 2009, the Forest Service awarded approximately $11.4 million to the Maine Forest Service to support public building heating system conversions; 13 projects underway are expected to create and retain about 200 jobs around the state. This school project was among the first grant applications to be approved, and the boiler is the first to be installed since the program began. The new wood-to-energy system will supply hot water heat to the 134,000-square-foot school. This state-of-the-art biomass system will replace 47,000 gallons of fuel oil per year, at an estimated annual savings to the school of more $125,000.

1/6/2011 -- In Idaho, Recovery Act-funded work to reconstruct the Silver Creek Campground on the Boise National Forest will be finished before the 2011 summer visitor season begins. The work includes major improvements to a largely undeveloped popular camping area located within a 90-minute drive from the Treasure Valley and Boise. During the 2010 field season, a local contractor improved 72 campsites; added new campground furniture and features such as fire rings, tent pads, and tables; realigned and reconstructed campground access roads and campsite spurs with asphalt and gravel surfacing; built six new restroom buildings; and installed landscaping. The contractor will finish a new pressurized potable water system and two group shelters as soon as snow leaves the area in the spring.

12/30/2010 -- Recovery Act funds are supporting landscape-scale kudzu control on the National Forests in Mississippi Tombigbee and Holly Springs ranger districts. Listed as one of the top 10 invasive weeds in Mississippi, kudzu is vigorously spreading across the landscape, threatening the economy and diversity of forested lands and contributing to wildfire intensity. In 2009 a Louisville, Mississippi, contractor won a contract to treat 7,600 total acres, with each acre to be sprayed with herbicide three consecutive years to ensure that the kudzu has been controlled. Weed eradication work is underway on both districts. The contractor treated 725 acres in fiscal year 2009 and 2,452 acres in fiscal year 2010. Treatments are planned on approximately 5,000 more acres in the next two fiscal years. Areas adjacent to cooperative landowners have been given treatment priority.

12/29/2010 -- In Mississippi, work to replace 21 road bridges across the state’s six national forests using $4.8 million in Recovery Act funds continues. As of mid-December, ten bridges have been replaced; three bridges are under construction; plans have been completed on six bridges awaiting construction; and plans are being prepared for two bridges. Mississippi engineering firms are designing the bridges; Mississippi companies are making the concrete bridge components; and Mississippi contractors are installing them. The work on the National Forests in Mississippi planned for completion by spring 2011 will significantly lower future maintenance costs and provide a safer, more useful transportation system in the years to come.

12/28/2010 -- This week the San Dimas Technology and Development Center (SDTDC)* in California’s eastern Los Angeles County will finish installing a new photovoltaic system (which converts sunlight into electricity) using Recovery Act funds. The system will produce enough electricity annually to meet the center's need, making SDTDC a zero-net-energy facility. Since technology transfer is part of SDTDC’s mission, this project will be used to provide information to other units about the operation and maintenance of photovoltaic systems. The new system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money on electricity. The California Conservation Corps completed a portion of the project this summer by installing energy saving devices such as energy efficient fluorescent lamps, occupancy sensors, and plug load strips in the building. Two contractors are in the final stages of installing the photovoltaic system, which should be on line in early 2011. *SDTDC is a national program of the Forest Service Engineering staff in Washington, DC, and serves emerging technological requirements of the Forest Service and its cooperators.

12/27/2010 -- Recovery Act-funded trail repair and reconstruction of heavily used, non-motorized trails is underway on several national forests throughout California to promote visitor safety and enhance the recreation experience while protecting natural resources. On the Lassen National Forest, an 8a-certified contractor recently completed work to repair cracks and potholes and resurface 11 miles of the Lake Almanor bike trail, also building 500 feet of new surface to connect two segments of the existing trail. In November, the contractor installed riprap* to stabilize the Lake Almanor trail to keep it from eroding into the lake. The public will benefit from improved trail access and the health benefits associated with connecting to the outdoors.

12/23/2010 -- In California on the Lassen National Forest, a local company has been working on numerous Recovery Act-funded projects this year. Snow play and snowmobile parking areas restored this summer are now ready for winter recreationists. The company also refurbished Eagle Lake recreation facility surfaces, which included repairing cracks and potholes and applying chipseal to the marina parking lot, bike trailhead parking, and other free-use areas. Workers also striped a parking lot to enhance the recreation experience. The project was completed in September 2010 so that facilities will be ready for summer recreation in 2011.

In Vermont, several local contractors have been working to restore and maintain public roads throughout the Green Mountain National Forest using Recovery Act funds. The work contributes to public safety on roads that serve as access to outdoor recreation opportunities and also connect townships, where local residents travel for daily activities.

12/16/2010 -- In Utah, state fire crews and contractors used Forest Service Recovery Act funds to extend existing fuel breaks from Dixie National Forest and other federal land areas onto private land near the community of Quichapa. State crews began hazardous fuel reduction treatments in dense pinion/juniper and sagebrush in May 2010, and contractors followed through the summer, finishing work in October. The project provided local jobs and encouraged community members who may never have seen work on their fuel break completed in conjunction with state and federal work if it were not for Recovery Act funds. Buntings Cut and Chip owner Ladd Bunting said, "The Quichapa project was an excellent opportunity to expand the capacity of my company in order to compete for larger projects in the future." Danon Hulet, Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands fuels coordinator, said, "The Quichapa project was a great opportunity to work with other agencies.” The fuels reduction also increased visibility on a popular county road to contribute to traveler safety and improve response time in the event of a wildfire. Pile burning will occur over the 2010-2011 winter season.

12/15/2010 -- In Vermont, Forest Service Recovery Act funds gave the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) the opportunity to work with 18 contractors and 10 local snowmobile clubs to implement 27 trail-related projects on 450 miles of Green Mountain National Forest trail. The recently completed work provided direct benefits through hiring, and indirect benefits include enhanced safety and enjoyment for trail users; increased tourism expenditures in neighboring communities; improved forest and watershed health; and a greater connection to the outdoors for the recreating public. Workers built 18 new wooden or steel I-beam bridges; installed over 40 new culverts; improved about 60 miles of trail with tread work and de-brushing; and re-located a trail to remove snowmobile traffic from a plowed vehicle road. “We are very excited about the many trail enhancements that have been made in the past year, and I want to thank the U.S. Forest Service for their support and partnership,” said Bryant Watson, VAST executive director.

12/14/2010 -- This past summer, the Forest Service partnered with the Idaho Department of Labor (IDOL) and the Student Conservation Association to establish the Recovery Act-funded Boise Community Program to provide youth work opportunities on the Boise National Forest Emmett and Mountain Home ranger districts. Using its summer youth employment program criteria, IDOL recruited workers aged 16 to 19 with hiring barriers such as low family income, parental incarceration, etc. Fourteen teens and four adult leaders worked nine weeks involving 3,770 hours of conservation work as well as 448 hours of job orientation training and environmental education. Workers built or maintained 18.5 miles of trail and 42 drainage improvements; constructed 13 stairs, eight water crossings, and two culverts; and built and installed a trailhead kiosk. Each worker gained an hourly wage, important job experience including the value of teamwork, and a sense of accomplishment from completing projects to benefit the natural environment near their communities. The project also provided a means for the Forest to finish work to enhance public safety and recreational enjoyment, indirectly contributing to the tourism economy.

12/13/2010 -- In California this past summer, Recovery Act funding allowed contractor Sierra Nevada Construction to complete over ten miles of chip seal work on a popular road on the Lake Tahoe Management Unit’s North Shore near Tahoe City to benefit both visitors and Forest Service administrative needs. The work improves public safety and enhances water quality and emergency vehicle access while reducing the unit’s road maintenance backlog. Approximately 15 people worked on the project, according to the contractor.

In Colorado, the Forest Service used Recovery Act funds to replace over 20 restrooms at campgrounds and picnic areas across the Pike and San Isabel National Forests and on the Comanche National Grasslands in Lake, Chaffee, El Paso, Park, Huerfano, and Custer counties. Four contractors replaced antiquated restrooms with new pre-cast concrete buildings in response to visitor comments concerning the run-down facilities that in some cases were at least 50 years old. The new facilities are more sanitary and fully accessible to people with disabilities; correct environmental concerns, such as leaking vaults; and should have a service life of 50 years. Work is now complete except for some minor site reshaping.

12/10/2010 -- The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) recently reported that USDA Forest Service Recovery Act grants had positively affected the lives of over 340 people in 2010. The jobs created or retained as a result of Recovery Act funding span the forested part of Colorado from Fort Collins to Dolores. Steamboat Springs overcame steep slopes and multiple ownerships to remove dead trees from 300 acres, positively impacting the livelihoods of 37 people. “My daughter is still in college because of this job,” said Don Stanford, who was hired by a Steamboat Springs logging firm just five days after his employer of 16 years closed his business. Recovery Act grants to local communities; state agencies, and small businesses helped recipients address forest-health issues on private, municipal, or state land. As a result, ten sub-recipients were able to hire workers to treat nearly 2,800 acres of hazardous fuels and overcrowded vegetation. Other recipients are making products out of local wood or developing or updating Community Wildfire Protection Plans; two plans were completed in 2010 and 15 are scheduled for completion in 2011. All of these projects should be finished in September 2011, and the CSFS expects to generate additional jobs while addressing important forest-health issues in the upcoming year.

12/9/2010 -- In Arizona, contractors hired with Recovery Act funding will help block a hazardous mine entrance on the Coronado National Forest near the town of Patagonia, about 60 miles south of Tucson. Work scheduled to begin in early January should be completed by spring 2011. This project will install a series of mine plugs inside the World's Fair Mine adit (a type of underground mine entrance that is horizontal or nearly horizontal to the mine) and seal the portal outlet to eliminate human entry. The adit is situated within the Alum Gulch Canyon watershed, which drains into Patagonia Lake. The project will enhance water quality and protect visitors from hazards associated with mine entry.

12/8/2010 -- In Washington this past summer, Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crews worked to rehabilitate hiking trails at the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument using Recovery Act funds. Nichole Hansen, assistant WCC crew-leader, said hikers they saw on trails were excited to see workers clearing heavy brush, renewing tread, and removing large trees that have fallen across trails. Sharon Steriti, Gifford Pinchot National Forest recovery trails projects coordinator, said the Forest could not get everything done without the help of organizations such as the WCC and workers they field. "The brushing and other maintenance work is never-ending," said Steriti, adding that these trail improvements should continue to pay off for a number of years. WCC Supervisor Nancy Toenyan with the Washington Department of Ecology said, "It is definitely hard work, but the rewards are huge." Mount St. Helens has two WCC crews scheduled to accomplish more Recovery Act-funded trail work in 2011. The work will enhance visitor safety while indirectly supporting the local economy.

12/7/2010 -- In September, contractors finished restoring the aging Brush Creek Work Center water system on the Plumas National Forest in California using Recovery Act funds. Work included replacing water distribution lines and developing an existing well. Contractors will reconstruct other existing water distribution lines at several recreation sites on the Plumas beginning in spring 2011, including Grasshopper Flats and Grizzly campgrounds, Honker Cove Boat Launch, and Lake Davis RV Dump Station. Survey and design work is underway now. Providing safe drinking water and protecting public health and the environment through proper wastewater treatment are increasingly important, particularly where water shortages are a growing problem. Project benefits include water conservation and water quality improvements while reducing future maintenance costs.

12/6/2010 -- In Idaho, a family-owned business completed the Recovery Act-funded Beaver Creek roads project on the Payette National Forest this past summer. Darren Lee, owner of 4 Lees Excavation and an Army National Guard member, was back from deployment overseas and has been re-deployed since completing the project. Lee and his three sons, sister, and father re-routed some roads away from streams and decommissioned others adjacent to streams to restore fish habitat degraded by sedimentation and improve overall watershed conditions. The contractors also improved 3.6 miles of road and installed a 14-foot span open bottom arch with concrete footings to open routes designated on the forest travel plan as passable and make them safer for public use.

12/3/2010 -- On the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, Recovery Act funds recently helped decommission non-conforming roads within three new and three expanded wildernesses created by the Public Lands Management Act of 2009. Workers also made significant improvements to the area’s overall watershed health. Road decommissioning efforts eliminated the hydrologic modification, sediment production, aquatic habitat fragmentation, impaired soil productivity, and illegal motorized use associated with the roads. Wildlife will also benefit from six small vernal wetlands created in areas rehabilitated during the roads work. Barrier rocks will deter any future illegal motorized access. Hand crews installed erosion control structures, sowed the prescribed seed mix, spread mulch, and transplanted nearby native vegetation to more rapidly move the area back to a natural appearance.

On December 2, the Denver Post carried a lengthy article outlining benefits to veterans through the Recovery Act-funded Veterans Green Jobs program. Forest Service Recovery Act funds helped put returning armed forces veterans to work reducing wildland fire risk and rehabilitating trails in southwest Colorado for the past two summers.

12/2/2010 -- In Colorado, Recovery Act funding allowed the White River National Forest to complete preservation work on three historic structures located on the Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District this past summer and early fall. Local contractors were employed in the preservation planning and construction efforts. Now the public will be able to rent the Piney Guard Station (north of Vail) and Tigiwon Community House (near Minturn) for family getaways, picnics, and weddings. Hikers regularly use the Notch Mountain Shelter while viewing Mount of the Holy Cross from atop Notch Mountain. The work included roof replacement; painting and refinishing; floor repairs; graffiti removal, and window and fireplace refurbishment. District Ranger Dave Neely said, “We really feel these projects were a win-win for the public. Not only were we able to improve the condition of these historic and popular buildings, but the additional revenue funneled directly into our local economy to help keep people working.”

12/1/2010 -- On the Ottawa National Forest in Michigan, Michigan contractors recently completed work to close 30 abandoned vertical mine shafts, contributing to public safety and protecting bat populations. Using gates to close the interconnected mines allows bats access to local hibernation sites while providing potential habitat for the Eastern pipistrelle bat, which is listed as a sensitive species. Some of the shafts were located in steep rocky terrain, requiring a combination of snowmobiles, ATVs, hand-carrying, and even a team of mules to move tons of iron and equipment to the mine shafts. In the Norwich area, closing these mines is the first step in developing an interpretive site planned to highlight the mining history of the area, ultimately improving the visitor experience on the forest's popular North County National Scenic Trail and contributing to the local tourism economy.

11/30/2010 -- Recovery Act funding is helping the Idaho Panhandle National Forest complete 21 road projects, five trails projects, and various forest health and recreation projects. On the Bonners Ferry District, some of the funds supported the maintenance program. The district used stimulus funding to paint its buildings, install new docks at Brush, Sinclair, and Smith lakes, and replace deteriorating bridges on the trails to Beehive and Roman Nose lakes. Workers also refurbished the Kalispell Bay boat launch at Priest Lake and improved the Laverne ATV Trail stream crossing to reduce impacts to water quality. Forest spokesperson Jay Kirchner said the Recovery Act funding “allows us to get a lot of work done that’s been sitting on the shelf waiting to get done for a long time while getting money back into the north Idaho economy.” Route of the Hiawatha rail-trail improvements and parking expansion will continue into next summer.

11/29/2010 -- In California on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Bridgeport Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) members have been performing critical trail maintenance work in the Hoover Wilderness in the eastern Sierra Mountains using Recovery Act funds. The work to protect resources while enhancing safety for approximately 100,000 annual visitors has also helped Mono County-based crew members benefit from job skills and environmental education gained in an area hard hit by the economic downturn. “I’ve learned a lot of things…about revegetation, stopping erosion on trails, widening trails. It’s really interesting,” said Cavanagh Gohlich, Bridgeport YCC crew member. Gohlich’s co-worker, Thomas Huggans, said, “It’s helped me become more of a team player.” Other crew members spoke of how much having a paycheck helped improve their financial situations.

11/26/2010 -- In California, a local service-disabled contractor recently completed rehabilitation work on four popular recreation sites within the Eldorado National Forest using Recovery Act funds. This family-run business improved the Ponderosa Cove group site and Stumpy Meadows, China Flat, and Silver Creek campgrounds, including upgrades to increase access to persons with disabilities. Work consisted of clearing and grubbing; grading roads, trails, spurs, and campsites; placing aggregate base and paving; removing and salvaging selected existing improvements, replacing campsite and picnic area furnishings, and installing potable water improvements. Work to improve one more site on the forest is ongoing. The renovated recreation facilities will enhance visitor enjoyment and indirectly support the local economy.

11/24/2010 -- On the Malheur National Forest, Recovery Act-funded forest restoration and fuel reduction project work underway seasonally since 2009 is on target for completion in mid-2011. Stewardship contracting authorities to reduce hazardous fuels on thousands of acres of National Forest System land in northeastern Oregon has provided jobs for numerous Oregon contractors, including equipment operators, thinning crews, and truck drivers, while helping to protect homes and private investments of residents in the wildland-urban interface. “I am getting steady work due to this funding. Without it, I would probably only be doing a little private work here and there,” said Seneca contractor Brad Browning. Raw material generated from this project is going to local sawmills, cogeneration facilities, fuels for schools projects, and a new pellet plant in John Day. “We feel this work will have a significant economic impact on our local communities,” said Forest Supervisor Doug Gochnour.

11/23/2010 -- Recovery Act-funded road repair work begun in Oregon and Washington this past summer at the Pacific Northwest Research Station’s network of research laboratories and experimental forests is complete. Oregon and Washington-based contractors finished the improvements that will ensure safer access for personnel and the public through grading and resurfacing roads; striping parking areas; and correcting drainage issues to improve water quality and ecosystem integrity. The work occurred at the Corvallis, Oregon, and Wenatchee, Washington, forestry sciences laboratories and on the H.J. Andrews, Starkey, and Wind River experimental forests, all in Oregon.

11/22/2010 -- On November 5, California federal agencies and conservation groups celebrated the first year of a two-year Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Recovery Act-funded repair project on the 2,650-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail. Representatives from the Forest Service, BLM, Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), Student Conservation Association (SCA), Friends of the Desert Mountains, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and The Wildlands Conservancy took part in the gathering. “Developing and nurturing sustainable partnerships is essential to increasing capacity for trail maintenance, as well as developing citizen stewards,” Beth Boyst, Forest Service Pacific Crest Trail program manager, told the group gathered in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Nearly 60 SCA crew members worked on the trail over the past summer, and the project will employ SCA members to maintain, reconstruct, and rehabilitate an additional 200 miles of trail next year. “This project is a great example of what can be accomplished working alongside our partners,” said Liz Bergeron, PCTA executive director. “We are proud to be part of such a successful team effort.”

11/18/2010 -- The San Juan National Forest recently announced a Recovery Act-funded partnership with local counties and the San Juan Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) in Colorado to inventory and treat noxious weeds on public lands where fuels-reduction projects have taken place. Over the next three years, 52,000 acres within 76 fuel-mitigation areas on the forest will be inventoried for infestations. Forest officials estimate 5,000 acres of noxious species will be treated. Clearing fuels creates opportunities for weeds to invade, threatening wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and plant and animal diversity. Counties will use the funds to enhance long-term cooperative weed management programs by purchasing geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and weed-treatment equipment. The RC&D is being funded to provide GPS and GIS training, field support, and project oversight to improve technical skills with the goal of ensuring consistent quality data, allowing county staff to meet national data-collection standards. Through participating agreements, Recovery Act funding has been transferred to the Upper San Juan and Dove Creek Mandatory weed districts, the La Plata County Weed Office, the Montezuma Weed Program, and the San Juan RC&D.

The Recovery Act-funded removal of the fire tower at Chimney Rock Archaeological Area on the San Juan National Forest in Colorado is nearly complete. The tower, which was reconstructed in the 1980s, detracted from the unique archaeological setting of the world-class Ancestral Pueblo, obstructing views of the rock pinnacles from the Great House and Kiva and blocking views of astronomical alignments that prehistoric inhabitants incorporated into their site layout.

11/17/2010 -- On the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota, the Recovery Act-funded restoration of Mount Roosevelt, also called Friendship Tower, is almost complete. Box Elder Civilian Conservation Center Job Corps program students and a stone mason specializing in historical restoration worked to restore and repair the tower’s original rock masonry during the summer. The workers built a foundation under the base to help direct drainage away from the tower and reconstructed the stairs to make the structure compliant with current federal safety standards. A removable roof will be built over the parapet to divert water and snow runoff away from the top of the tower. Seth Bullock, an early Black Hills National Forest supervisor, built the tower in 1919 in honor of his friend President Theodore Roosevelt. For safety reasons, the tower had been closed with a locked gate for quite some time, but now visitors can safely go to the top just as it was originally intended. The Forest will install interpretive signs later this fall.

11/16/2010 -- On November 9, the Bitterroot National Forest and partners commemorated the Recovery Act-funded makeover of 15 miles of the heavily-used East Fork Road near Sula, Montana, that includes numerous private approaches and access to popular recreational sites on National Forest System lands. Representatives from the Federal Highway Administration; the Ravalli County roads department; and the contractor, Schellinger Construction of Columbia Falls; joined Forest officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Thomas Wright, Schellinger Construction project manager, said the paving project was completed using 50-percent recycled road material. "There were quite a few potholes in the old road," Sula resident Tammy Reed said. "So we're pretty thankful for our road." In addition to improving public safety, the revamped road will also reduce erosion and enhance water quality in the river, a popular destination with anglers.

A local artist is working to complete a carving to restore the disintegrating lintel, or header, over the Roosevelt Terrace door at Oregon’s historic Timberline Lodge on the Mt. Hood National Forest. John Zipprich is carving an elegant angular bird into a nearly 15-foot long, 3-foot high Douglas fir slab to replace the 70-year-old original that was beyond repair. Zipprich's piece is among the last and most visible Recovery Act-funded restoration projects accomplished at the lodge since 2009, employing more than seven major contractors, the Army Corp of Engineers, and many others.

11/15/2010 -- In Colorado, Forest Service Recovery Act state grant funds helped create a 1,400-acre vegetative mosaic in the Perins Peak State Wildlife Area west of Durango, enticing roving wildlife to forage and mitigating wildfire risk to the nearby Durango Ridge Ranch subdivision. Rue Logging, Inc., recognized as the 2007 Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region Small Business of the Year, used the hydro-axe, a vehicle with a front-end attachment that resembles an over-sized lawn mower blade, to accomplish the work. President Brian Rue has not had to lay off an employee in nine years and hopes he can stretch it to 10. “I just want to get up in the morning and go to work,” said Rue. The benefits to both wildlife and subdivision homeowners confirms the project’s success. “I’m ecstatic,” said Trevor Balzer, Colorado Division of Wildlife Durango District wildlife manager.”Everyone is very pleased,” said Patricia Haupt, Firewise neighborhood ambassador for Durango Ridge Ranch.

11/10/2010 -- In late October, Grant County residents and an array of federal, state, and local officials attended an open house in John Day, Oregon, to celebrate the opening of the new Malheur Lumber Company pellet plant. This new facility was made possible in large part by $5 million in Forest Service Recovery Act funds. Malheur Lumber plans on hiring an additional 15 workers for the new pellet plant and to add a second shift, which would be used to chip the loads of biomass. The plant, expected to begin producing pellets and bricks in December, will support wildfire hazardous fuel reduction efforts on the Malheur National Forest as well as state and private lands.

11/9/2010 -- Work using $6 million in Forest Service Recovery Act funds to California ReLeaf* to support 17 urban forestry projects throughout the state is ongoing. In connection with the 20th annual Make a Difference Day on October 23, workers are planting more than 1,200 trees in California’s Central Valley. Visalia-based environmental firm Quad Knopf is overseeing the grant process for California ReLeaf in this part of California, including helping local agencies who received the funds by identifying sites, conducting research, and preparing successful grant applications. In late October and early November, tree planting took place at Madera’s River Trail, Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Kooligan Stadium, Madera Center, and two sites in Oakhurst. In addition to improving urban environments, the funds are creating or retaining jobs and providing job training for scores of young people into 2012.

11/8/2010 -- This summer on the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) in Pennsylvania, 70 students spent 7,500 hours conducting much-needed trail rehabilitation work. The ANF’s Recovery Act-funded agreement with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) brought youth from all over the country, including Pittsburgh, New York City, and Oakland, California. "It has been extremely beneficial to the ANF this year to have the energy of all these young folks," Marienville District Ranger Rob Fallon said. The bulk of the work focused on trails for hiking, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles. The North Country Trail and its feeder trails received much of the SCA’s attention. In late October one of the crews was laying pavers on a 3,000-foot hill climb on the Marienville ATV Trail. Some work is still underway this fall, and work will continue seasonally for the next three years.

In Washington, workers recently completed replacing the Ramona Bridge, the main entry point to the Snowberry Bowl Campground on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Chelan Ranger District about two miles southwest of Twenty-Five Mile Creek State Park. One contractor fabricated the 55-foot-long steel girder bridge, and another company installed it.

11/5/2010 -- On November 9, the San Juan National Forest in Colorado will conduct its final inspection of the East Fork Road reconstructed under a Recovery Act-funded cooperative agreement with the Federal Highway Administration. In 2008 a natural landslide destroyed a section of the forest road important to hunters and recreationists accessing the forest northeast of Pagosa Springs. Workers accomplished slide stabilization by installing a subsurface drainage system to dewater the slide zone and culverts to divert drainage away from the road. In addition, the project included 800 feet of reconstructed road. The completed work contributes to traveler safety and supports the local tourism economy.

11/4/2010 -- Early next week, the State of Maine plans to announce its second round of public buildings selected for Forest Service Recovery Act-funded wood-fired boiler heating system conversions. In February, Maine Governor John Baldacci announced the selection of six schools during the first grant application round. Three of those schools—Phillips Elementary/Middle School in Phillips; Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris; and Poland Regional High School in Poland—expect their new wood/dual-fuel heating systems to be operational this heating season. A total of $11.4 million was made available to the State for grants to help primarily rural, economically depressed counties while supporting greater fuel efficiency and use of a renewable energy source. The projects will reduce dependency on fuel oil and create new “green” jobs to support Maine’s forest-products industries. Maine Forest Service Director Alec Giffen estimated the first-round conversions would annually avoid the burning of almost 263,000 gallons of oil; re-circulate $600,000 in fuel dollars into the Maine economy; and avoid more than 5 million pounds of fossil fuels emissions.

11/3/2010 -- On October 28, USDA Deputy Under Secretary Jay Jensen visited several Forest Service Recovery Act projects sites in Missouri. Jensen stopped at the Mark Twain National Forest’s Red Bluff Campground where Recovery Act funds financed improvements that provided jobs for local contractors with long-term benefits to the public through improved water quality and new facilities such as restrooms, lantern posts, and other campground infrastructure. The Deputy Under Secretary hiked a small portion of the Ozark Trail off Highway 8 west of Potosi with Ozark Trail Association (OTA) and AmeriCorps officials and volunteers. Both groups received Recovery Act grants to support their trail-building and maintenance efforts. OTA President Steve Coates told Jensen that his group’s grant helped to complete the last segment of the trail, which now runs from the St. Louis metro region 240 miles to the Arkansas border. Jensen also saw the Potosi Ranger District headquarters, where Recovery Act funds had been used to complete office renovation and where Potosi High School agriculture students had built pollinator gardens to attract plant pollinators such as bats, butterflies, moths, and bees.

11/2/2010 -- On October 27, Southwest Conservation Corps and Veterans Green Jobs received a Rocky Mountain Regional Forester‘s Honor Award, recognizing a successful Recovery Act-funded partnership that has provided 100 jobs in forest management work for military veterans retuning from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas. Since 2009, veterans have accomplished vital wildland hazardous fuels reduction and trail improvement work on the San Juan and Rio Grande national forests in Colorado through a program designed to empower them as they re-enter civilian life through emerging conservation careers that also stimulate rural economies. For example, a former Marine sniper’s crew leader opportunity working among military peers with similar experiences while providing a valuable conservation service helped him reduce his post-traumatic stress severity, and he now plans to attend Colorado State University to pursue a forestry degree. The program will continue into 2011.

11/1/2010 -- In Alaska, Forest Service Recovery Act-funded hazardous fuel mitigation work in wildland urban interface areas on the Kenai Peninsula is underway. In one area, fuel loading survey work will be followed by treatment of woody debris that has been deposited at a community slash disposal site established about five years ago with other federal grant funds. In addition to providing a place for local residents to dispose of slash and woody debris removed from their property, the site allows the public access to larger material for free firewood cutting. Other work associated with this grant to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) includes removal of hazard trees along road corridors; reduction of ground fuels on State park lands, and removal of excess biomass as identified in community wildfire protection plans. ADF&G estimates that when complete this project will have created up to 230 temporary jobs in an area experiencing high unemployment.

10/29/2010 -- In Nevada, $3.8 million in Forest Service Recovery Act funds awarded to Washoe County Regional Parks Department through the Nevada Department of Agriculture is putting people back to work while helping land recover from six major fires that burned 10,000 acres during the past 15 years. Fire restoration work includes planting trees, wild roses, and seed and mapping and treating noxious weeds on private property or land owned by the City of Reno or the county. While work is underway or will begin this fall in many areas, other activities will begin or continue in spring. Washoe County Regional Parks estimates the funds will create around 120 jobs, helping to ease high unemployment caused in part by a severe decline in the building construction industry.

10/28/2010 -- In Oregon, Recovery Act funding is improving trails on the Mt. Hood National Forest to enhance outdoor recreational opportunities and protect ecosystems by minimizing stream sedimentation from routes on which storms, fast-growing vegetation, and recreational use have taken their toll. Work on the forest involves 17 contractors and grants and agreements with Northwest Service Academy and Oregon Youth Employment Initiative. The forest’s many partners are also supporting the work to refurbish and repair trails that serve thousands of visitors annually. The work is contributing to visitor safety and accessibility while indirectly supporting the local tourism economy. Workers recently completed the Trillium Lake loop trail and construction of fishing access points along the northern portion of the lake. Other trail work is ongoing.

10/27/2010 -- In Arizona, the Forest Service and the White Mountain Apache Tribe recently broke ground on a Recovery Act-funded greenhouse and nursery in Canyon Day, Arizona, which is projected to employ up to 80 tribal members over time. The new facility will replace a greenhouse that burned in McNary, Arizona. The Tribe plans to sell pine and other seedlings to public land agencies and commercial operations.

10/26/2010 -- In Colorado, eight professional wood-cutting contractors and four government crews are clearing trees and other vegetation in a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded wildfire mitigation effort designed to protect 19 communities in Boulder, Gilpin, Grand, and Larimer counties from increasing wildfire threat. Workers are creating fuel breaks in Boulder County that will influence fire behavior in the Seven Hills community, which was recently threatened by the Fourmile Canyon Fire that destroyed over 160 homes last month. Roadside thinning of trees in Larimer County will help residents evacuate safely if a wildfire erupts. The thinning work will also provide more forage for wildlife.

10/25/2010 -- In Alaska, a Recovery Act-funded project underway since spring is helping 13 communities around the state improve weed control efforts. The Alaska Weed Management project, a cooperative agreement between the Forest Service and the Alaska Association of Conservation Districts (AACD), has resulted in 18 new one-year positions at AACD, including a project manager and budget assistant, 13 invasive plant coordinators (IPCs), and three weed-control crew members. The ICPs are conducting training and public outreach during the winter months and invasive plant surveys and control projects in warmer weather. The ICPs have developed posters, flyers, mailings, handouts, public service announcements, and newspaper articles, each with its own local flavor. Numerous workshops and weed pulls have been held. An innovative weed scavenger hunt drew crowds in Juneau. In Fairbanks, a competitive "Weed Smackdown" drew 88 people who organized into teams and vied to pull more weeds than the Fairbanks Rollergirls, a female roller derby team. The goal is to give local communities knowledge and tools to continue work on controlling invasive plant species long after the Recovery Act project ends in spring 2011.





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