2017 fire season costs exceed $2 billion

Summer 2017 may be remembered years from now for its devastating hurricanes, but it has also proven to be yet another record-setting fire season.

Federal wildfire spending has increased steadily over the past three decades, but even more rapidly over the past five years. Two years ago, the Forest Service spent a record $1.71 billion on fighting wildfire; this year that total has eclipsed the $2 billion mark. In terms of total federal spending – the combined spending of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – this year’s tab will be close to $2.5 billion, also a record and roughly 25 percent more expensive than the 2016 fire season.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the 2017 fire season burned more than 8 million acres, or 2.5 million more acres than an average fire season. But the word “average” means less year after year when it comes to wildfire figures. Read the full story on NACD's blog.

USFS, NRCS seek FY2018 proposals for Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership

The Forest Service and NRCS are accepting proposals for 2018 funding through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership. Proposals will be selected based on their capacity to measurably improve the health and resiliency of forest and rangeland ecosystems while contributing community benefits.

All projects will be completed within a three-year period and leverage technical and financial resources between federal, state, and local agencies and other partners to complete on-the-ground work across jurisdictional boundaries.

Proposals must be submitted electronically by October 17 to Luther Jones at luther.jones@wdc.usda.gov and Clint Cross at Clintcross@fs.fed.us. A template proposal is available here on the JFT website.

Perdue, Tooke address attendees at 2017 NASF Annual Meeting

NACD attended the 2017 National Association of State Foresters (NASF) Annual Meeting last week in Charleston, West Virginia. The four-day event was attended by a variety of partners and helped introduce 13 new state foresters to NASF.

USDA Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke both addressed the crowd on the impacts of recent wildfires and the importance of establishing partnerships to help manage forest resources. Perdue (pictured above, far left) also helped recognize former Georgia State Forester Robert Farris (far right) with the Jim Hubbard Lifetime Achievement Award during the Wednesday luncheon.

The group toured the New River Gorge as well and observed a wood-cutting competition demonstration organized by members of the West Virginia University woodsmen team.

Forestry Briefs

Michigan - District helping county officials establish community forest

The Delta Conservation District helped county officials complete a purchase for 1,400 acres in Cornell Township for use as a community forest. The land was formerly owned by forest products company Weyerhaeuser. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Trust Fund Grant provided significant funding for the purchase.

Delta Conservation District Executive Director Rory Mattson told the Daily Press that logging will serve as a new revenue stream for the county. “Within probably 20 years, this property will pay back anywhere from 20 to 30 times what this county put into it,” Mattson said.

The district plans to install signs, set up a timber sale in conjunction with Weyerhaeuser, establish survey corners, and develop a forest management plan.

North Carolina - Event gets students ‘thinking, moving, and talking’ about natural resources

The Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District was among several North Carolina partners to help organize a two-day Conservation Field Day for sixth grade students in the county. Students learned about forestry, soils, wildlife, the water cycle, and agriculture production through lectures, hands-on learning, and games.

“They’re learning about topics such as the function of soil for septic systems and how they identify trees that may need to be removed,” Ann Cesna, assistant principal at West Lincoln Middle School, told the Lincoln Times-News. “They’re seeing the correlation of what this is and how it relates to where they live. It gets them thinking, moving, and talking about the things they love which is soil and dirt – all out of the classroom.”

During the field day students also discussed careers available in various conservation fields.

Iowa - Program helps landowners purchase shade trees

Residents in Iowa can now purchase landscaping trees at a discounted rate to help reduce their energy costs. Through the Operation ReLeaf program, Alliant Energy customers may purchase landscaping trees for $25 each; the trees retail for between $65 and $125, according to program officials.

“Planting a diverse mix of trees on your property and in your neighborhood will reduce the likelihood of losing a large number of trees to forest health threats,” Iowa State Forester Jeff Goerndt told The Gazette.

Goerndt said they are encouraging homeowners who do not intend to treat for emerald ash borer to plant a replacement tree within 30 feet of the existing ash tree. Foresters have been working with local partners to create community tree inventories that will guide future tree planting efforts to keep a healthy mix of tree species. The program is funded by Alliant Energy and administered by the Iowa DNR with assistance from local partners, including the Jones Soil and Water Conservation District.

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