Federal money pumped into habitat
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
April 10, 2007
On Tuesday, U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne launched the Healthy Lands Initiative in seven Western states, announcing that the Bureau of Land Management is allocating $3 million for immediate on-the-ground restoration work, including nearly half-a-million dollars for habitat work in Wyoming.
“As a demonstration of our Department’s commitment to this initiative, we are immediately funding partnership projects to improve the health and productivity of public lands in key areas of today’s fast-changing West,” Kempthorne said in a teleconference with reporters. The states to benefit from the immediate funding are Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Oregon, and Nevada.
The Healthy Lands Initiative, announced in the President’s fiscal year 2008 budget proposal, addresses a multitude of pressures on the public lands, including increased urban-suburban development and outdoor recreational activity; rising demands for energy; impacts from large-scale wildfires; and the effects of an ongoing weed invasion.
“Demand for public land uses and resources is at an all-time high,” Kempthorne said, “and the BLM faces tough challenges in carrying out its multiple-use mission. The bureau’s efforts are crucial not only in maintaining the quality of life Westerners have come to expect, but also in ensuring the economic well-being and energy security of all Americans.”
“The Healthy Lands Initiative takes an aggressive, landscape-level approach to land management, one that will facilitate needed energy development while protecting a myriad of resources on the public lands, including world-class wildlife habitat,” he said.
The $3 million in immediate funding, which is from BLM’s current 2007 appropriated funds, will be distributed for projects that will be completed in the western states by September 30 of this year. Wyoming will receive $402,000 for sagebrush prescribed burns, riparian restoration, aspen regeneration, and wildlife water developments.
Other funding allocations include $1 million for New Mexico; $325,000 for Colorado; $439,000 for Utah; and $380,000 for Idaho. In addition, the tri-state area of southeastern Oregon/northern Nevada and southwestern Idaho will receive a total of $454,000 for shrub-steppe restoration for juniper removal, invasive weed control, and riparian restoration.
These funds are in addition to the $22 million in Healthy Lands Initiative funding the President requested in his FY08 budget. The FY07 projects are expected to leverage an additional $3 million of in-kind and monetary contributions from state and private partners and help to restore about 74,000 acres of BLM-managed land.