6 Mar 2010, 4:43pm
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Ag Sec Vilsack Promotes Collaborative Approach to Forest Restoration and Job Creation in MT

Highlights Recovery Act Benefits for Montana

From: USDA Office of Communications, March 6, 2010 — Not yet posted [here]

Release No. Pending

Washington, D.C. - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today visited Montana to discuss his vision for healthy forests and view bark beetle infested areas on national forests in southwestern Montana.

“Declining forest health and the effects of our changing climate have resulted in an increasing number of catastrophic wildfires and insect outbreaks,” said Vilsack last year when outlining his vision for the future of our nation’s forests. “It is time for a change in the way we view and manage America’s forestlands with an eye towards the future. This will require a new collaborative approach that engages the American people and stakeholders in conserving and restoring both our National Forests and our privately-owned forests.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is a vital component of this new collaborative process that USDA is continuing to implement. Through the Recovery Act, the USDA Forest Service received $500 million for 298 projects to create jobs and restore our nation’s private, state and national forests through hazardous fuel reduction and other forest management activities. Sixteen of these projects are in Montana at a funding level of $16.4 million. In total, Montana received $71 million in ARRA funds, including $54.6 million for capital improvement and maintenance activities. Some of the ARRA funds were made available nationwide to promote the development of bioenergy from woody biomass to help private sector businesses establish renewable energy infrastructure, create green jobs and build a new, green economy for the 21st century, while lessening our dependence on foreign oil.

While in Montana Vilsack met with Sen. Jon Tester to discuss their shared goals of addressing forest jobs, implementing forest restoration and creating economic opportunities through recreation. The Secretary also toured Sun Mountain Lumber Company in Deer Lodge, one of a number of small lumber mills in southwestern Montana that have re-tooled to accommodate small diameter wood products. Small mills like Sun Mountain are essential in the work of forest restoration. The President’s fiscal year 2011 budget includes a new signature budget line item, Integrated Resource Restoration, proposed at $690 million which will drive investments such as this.

Thanks for the news tip to Julie Kay Smithson of Property Rights Research [here, here]

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