USA–– A newly established fund operated by a national nonprofit organization will help restore damaged areas in national forests.
The U.S. Forest Service announced Friday that the National Forest Foundations Wildfire Recovery Fund will support environmental restoration projects around the country where wildfires burned national forest land.
According to the Forest Service, the funds efforts will be directed at activities to restore or protect watersheds, plant new trees and prevent mudslides following wildfires.
Our work isnt over when weve put the fire out, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a written statement. If restoration efforts arent under way before the next big storm hits, critical drinking water supplies may be endangered and overall forest health compromised for years to come.
According to the Forest Service, post-fire treatment is only conducted on part of the burned areas, including very steep slopes, places with excessive water runoff, severely burned spots, slopes above buildings or areas near water supplies. Work typically must be started before the next major rain or snow storm.
A number of techniques are used in such efforts, including seeding ground cover, mulching with straw or chipped wood, rock or log dams to catch sediment on slopes, modifying road and trail drainage or constructing emergency spillways to keep roads and bridges from washing out.
The Wildfire Recovery Fund isnt the only program through the National Forest Foundation to restore forest land after devastating fires. The organization has worked with the federal government to restore fire damage with dozens of projects, including one $4 million effort in Colorado to improve 45,000 acres of land devastated by the Hayman Fire a decade ago.
In California, the organization is also working with volunteers on tree planting and stream restoration in the Angeles National Forest to restore lands burned by the 161,000 acre Station Fire.
Jennifer Schoonen, spokeswoman for the foundation, said the new fund will be used for more urgent restoration projects and allow those efforts to respond more quickly than with the larger campaigns.
Schoonen said the foundation would work with regional offices of the Forest Service to determine which fires and projects have priority and a need for funding. Though the foundation does allow donors to indicate that they want their money spent in a specific state.
We will work with the forest service to put those funds on the ground for fire restoration where the need is greatest, Schoonen said.
The National Forest Foundation was founded in 1991, and works to conserve, enhance and restore national forest land around the country, according to the Forest Service.