U.S. Forest Service and Department of Natural resources to utilize GOOD NEIGHBOR AUTHORITY to restore forest and watershed health in minnesota

 

Media Contacts:

Kristina Reichenbach, Superior National Forest

 p:(218)626-4393

kreichenbach@fs.fed.us

 

Jim Gubbels, Chippewa National Forest

p:218-335-8612

jrgubbels@fs.fed.us)

 

Kent Jacobson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
p:218-423-6023
kent.jacobson@state.mn.

U.S. Forest Service and Department of Natural resources to utilize GOOD NEIGHBOR AUTHORITY to restore forest and watershed health in minnesota

February 2, 2016 - Duluth, MN. In a move that will boost collaborative management of Minnesota’s forest lands, the U.S. Forest Service has signed a Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) master agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The completed master agreement between the Chippewa and Superior National Forests in Minnesota and the DNR follows similar agreements signed by the national forests in Michigan and Wisconsin. These agreements are among the first signed GNA master agreements in the country.

The master agreement is a broad pact allowing the state to supplement the work being done by Forest Service staff on the national forests. A range of forest and watershed restoration may be accomplished under GNA, including: project planning and environmental analysis; project preparation work such as treatment area design and layout and sale preparation; fuel reduction, commercial timber removal, and reforestation; road decommissioning; and noxious weed treatment. Some road reconstruction and maintenance is also allowed. Supplemental project agreements will be signed between the DNR and each national forest in the coming weeks to more specifically identify the nature of the work to be completed in the first year of the master agreement.

 “Good Neighbor Authority projects will expand our capacity to achieve forest management outcomes described in the two national forests’ 2004 Land and Resource Management Plans,” said U.S. Forest Service Eastern Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson. “This authority is a significant way for the Forest Service to partner with state agencies to make improvements to the land, benefiting local communities and their economies with the timber receipts generated from Good Neighbor Authority. I’m excited to have a new tool that allows us to work together in unprecedented ways now and into the future.”

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized Good Neighbor Authority for the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. GNA allows the Forest Service to enter into agreements or contracts with states that enable the states to perform forest, rangeland and watershed restoration services on national forest system lands that add to ongoing projects. The Authority can improve efficiencies by working across state and federal boundaries on similar projects. While helping to achieve and maintain conditions called for in the Forest Plan for each national forest, projects also provide additional wood fiber to Minnesota’s vital forest products industry. A portion of the receipts from the timber sales will reimburse the state for its costs to do the work, with remaining funds available to conduct additional restoration activities on the forest.

“This agreement continues to foster a positive collaborative relationship between Minnesota and the U.S. Forest Service to address land management on a landscape basis. We very much appreciate the willingness of our federal partners to undertake this pilot program in Minnesota.” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “This program is a tribute to the leadership of the U.S. Forest Service to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of forest management.”

The Good Neighbor Authority provides the opportunity to work across jurisdictional boundaries and sustainably manage forest lands in a mixed-ownership setting. It leverages state resources to increase capacity to accomplish work on national forest system lands. It also helps strengthen federal and state partnerships as well as open up opportunities for the Forest Service and DNR to work with other partners.

“We are fortunate to have the Minnesota DNR and its employees ready and willing to assist us in achieving important conservation goals on national forests, in addition to the important work they already do on state-managed, county and private lands,” Atkinson said. “I am looking forward to working even more closely with the DNR on a variety of conservation projects.”

 

The DNR promotes the conservation, enjoyment, and use of Minnesota's forests; provides long-term, sustainable management of forest resources from state forest lands; improves the health and productivity of other public and private forest lands and community forest lands; and protects life, property, and natural resources from wildfires. To learn more about Minnesota’s state forest management and planning, visit www.mndnr.gov/forestry .

 

The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service’s Eastern Region includes 20 states in the Midwest and East, stretching from Maine, to Maryland, to Missouri, to Minnesota. There are 17 national forests and one national tallgrass prairie in the Eastern Region. For more information, visit: the Superior National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/superior; the Chippewa National Forest website at www.usda.gov/chippewa ; or the Region 9 website at   www.fs.usda.gov/R9.

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

 

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