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DNRC to invest $4.5M in cross-boundary forest management projects


HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) will begin a formal solicitation process for forest management and restoration projects as it seeks to address forest health and wildfire risks identified in the recently-completed Montana Forest Action Plan.

The effort to implement on-the-ground forest management and restoration work across ownership boundaries was boosted earlier this week when Governor Steve Bullock allocated $4.5 million from the state’s Fire Suppression Fund toward the initiative.   

“This funding will be available to projects that help catalyze action and accelerate the pace and scale of forest management in order to reduce wildland fire hazards to our communities and infrastructure, improve forest health, and increase restoration activities on Montana's forested lands,” said Governor Steve Bullock.

The state funding will be matched with $500,000 in grants from the USDA Forest Service. Successful award amounts for cross-boundary forest restoration and management projects are expected to be between $50,000 and $500,000. The funds will be available to federal, state, tribal, and local governments, forest collaboratives and watershed groups, as well as contractors, private forest landowners, and nonprofit organizations.  

“This funding shows a real commitment to actually getting work done on the ground,” said Blake Henning, Chief Conservation Officer of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and member of the Montana Forest Action Advisory Council, which developed the Forest Action Plan. “Partners from across the state came together to develop the plan, and with this investment we can now move forward with collaboratively addressing the most pressing forest health and wildfire risk issues.”

The Request for Proposals (RFP) submission period began on December 1, 2020, with all project proposals due on January 29, 2021. Project proposals will be scored by the newly formed Montana Forest Action Plan Implementation Committee. Once projects are selected, funding will be allocated by DNRC.

DNRC will host informational sessions about the RFP process to answer questions and explain eligibility; those sessions are scheduled for December 10 and December 16, 2020, and January 12, 2021. To attend one of the sessions, participants should email montanaforestactionplan@mt.gov for the meeting information. It is strongly recommended that interested applicants attend one of these meetings or contact the DNRC to help determine eligibility.

“I look forward to building on the success of on-going projects and creating new opportunities to improve forest health and reduce wildfire with this initial funding for the Montana Forest Action Plan,” says Ethan Kunard, Executive Director of the Montana Watershed Coordination Council and member of the newly formed Forest Action Plan Implementation Committee. “Right from the start, we are helping connect partners across ownership boundaries, so we can start solving the complex forest health and water issues Montana faces and promote healthy and resilient landscapes across our state.”

Funds will be allocated to new and existing cross boundary projects that exemplify the goals and strategies outlined in the 2020 revision of the Montana Forest Action Plan. In addition to funding projects in Montana, the Montana Forest Action Plan Implementation Committee and supporting agencies intend to utilize the Montana Forest Action Plan and the results of the initial funding allocation to help increase cross boundary, landscape scale projects in Montana and to better compete at the national level for additional funding opportunities.

“Throughout the process, we’ve been saying the Montana Forest Action Plan is all about working across ownership boundaries to create meaningful change in Montana’s forests,” said Gordy Sanders, Resource Manager at Pyramid Lumber Company and member of the Montana Forest Action Advisory Council Leadership Committee. “The funding we’ve been allotted to help implement the Montana Forest Action Plan will help us work together to be good stewards of the land and support our local economies.”

For additional information on the RFP or the initial funding, please visit www.montanatforestactionplan.org or contact Wyatt Frampton (wframpton@mt.gov) or Steve Kimball (Stephen.Kimball@mt.gov).

The draft Montana Forest Action Plan is available online at: https://www.montanaforestactionplan.org/datasets/b84ae96872204f2dbada1b5a065955fe

 

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