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A plan to bring $90 million to Montana's "Southwestern Crown of the Continent" region has made the finals list. A proposal detailing restoration work in the state's west-central national forests has just been nominated by the Regional Forester for funding. Scott Brennan, forest program director for The Wilderness Society, is co-chair of the Southwestern Crown Collaborative. The group includes business leaders, land managers and others who wrote the proposal. He says jobs are a top priority, and estimates that at least 170 positions could be created through wildlife habitat improvement and reduction of fire risks near where people live. "Thinning of forests near communities in the Blackfoot, the Clearwater and the Swan would put people to work, and it would provide timber for the mills." The "to do" list is long if the Montana project is approved, Brennan explains. It includes trail improvements, mining reclamation and improved bridges and culverts to benefit fish, as well as recreational uses.

Montana Forest Plan Nominated for Restoration Cash And Jobs

A plan to bring $90 million to Montana’s “Southwestern Crown of the Continent” region has made the finals list. A proposal detailing restoration work in the state’s west-central national forests has just been nominated by the Regional Forester for funding.

Scott Brennan, forest program director for The Wilderness Society, is co-chair of the Southwestern Crown Collaborative. The group includes business leaders, land managers and others who wrote the proposal. He says jobs are a top priority, and estimates that at least 170 positions could be created through wildlife habitat improvement and reduction of fire risks near where people live.

“Thinning of forests near communities in the Blackfoot, the Clearwater and the Swan would put people to work, and it would provide timber for the mills.”

The “to do” list is long if the Montana project is approved, Brennan explains. It includes trail improvements, mining reclamation and improved bridges and culverts to benefit fish, as well as recreational uses.

“We’d see close to 80,000 acres of weeds treated, and there will be some decommissioning of roads that are no longer needed and are causing water pollution problems.”

Brennan says he expects parts of the plan could be controversial, but he hopes that working with local residents early and completing environmental assessments will avert opposition.

Ten forest health improvement plans across the country will be selected for special funding. Both the Southwestern Crown plan and a proposal for the Clearwater Basin in Idaho were nominated by the Regional Forester.

Here are details about the proposal.

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One comment

  1. Matthew Koehler

    Hello: The WildWest Institute is part of the SW Crown working group, so we know a little bit about the proposal. Last year, Congress passed the Forest Landscape Restoration Act (FLRA), establishing the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP). Congress also appropriated a whopping (please note sarcasm) $10 million dollars for the CFLRP to pay up to 50% of the implementation and monitoring costs of restoration or fuel reduction work on National Forest system lands.

    At this point in the process, the SW Crown group put together a proposal and submitted it to the USFS Regional Office. Regional Forester Weldon took a look at the proposal and nominated the SW Crown proposal for consideration on the national level. A final selection decision by the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the Forest Service is expected this summer.

    While it seems likely to me that the SW Crown proposal will be one of the top projects funded nationally, it’s really not realistic to think that a $91 million grant is going to be making it’s way out to Montana anytime soon. Remember, all Congress appropriated for FY 2010 was $10 million…and that money will need to be divided between the ten projects that get funded. So maybe we’re just talking about a million bucks here. Future funding is always a possibility, but I’m pretty sure that the US is still in a major economic crisis and Congress continues to spend way more money than it’s bringing in. That will likely not change anytime soon…or if ever, based on an aging boomer population and other significant economic factors in the US and around the world.

    Also, it’s important to keep in mind that what was put together was simply a proposal…of proposed, possible work IF full funding becomes available. All of these proposed projects still need to go through the full NEPA process, so again, I’m not sure I’d put too much stock in any of the specific numbers associated with this proposal at this point. It was certainly a good exercise and maybe it will result is some good work happening on the ground…maybe not. Time will tell. Thanks.