ALASKA – The Chugach National Forest has a new avenue for completing priority restoration projects on the forest through a recently signed Good Neighbor Agreement with the regional tribal consortium Chugachmiut. Chugachmiut is an Alaska Native 501(c)3 non-profit tribal consortium incorporated in 1974 to promote health, education, training and provide technical assistance to seven Native communities of the Chugach Region.
Through coordination with Region 10 State and Private Forestry, the Chugach National Forest has utilized the expanded Good Neighbor Authority to partner with Chugachmiut to perform various forest restoration activities. The agreement allows the forest to enlist the Chugachmiut workforce and their expertise in completing restoration projects associated with forest health issues, including the evolving spruce beetle epidemic that is impacting areas of southcentral Alaska and the Chugach National Forest.
The agreement adds capacity to the forest to tackle restoration projects related to forest health issues while at the same time providing employment and training opportunities for the Native communities served by Chugachmiut. It provides a framework for accomplishing a wide range of projects related to forest health.
The Good Neighbor Authority initially allowed the Forest Service to enter into cooperative agreements with state agencies to perform forest, rangeland and watershed restoration services on National Forest System lands. The 2018 expansion provided the ability to enter into agreements with tribal entities and counties.
"The expansion of the Good Neighbor Authority to allow participation by regional tribal consortium Chugachmiut is particularly important in Alaska where Native communities have capacity and skills to help the National Forest. The expansion of authority to tribes and counties was timely for Southcentral Alaska and provides a great way to achieve forest health treatments to reduce beetle damage due the ongoing spruce bark beetle epidemic." Michael Shephard, deputy director State and Private Forestry, Region 10.