WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two collaborative restoration projects on federal forests in eastern Oregon will gain $6 million in funding for 2012 as part of a sweeping strategy announced Thursday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The funding includes $2.5 million for the Southern Blues Restoration Coalition project on the Malheur National Forest and $3.5 million for the Lakeview Stewardship Project.

They are among 10 new projects funded under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. Ten other forest landscape projects selected in 2010 - including Deschutes Skyline in Oregon - will see their funding continued.

"Through our partnerships with states, communities, tribes and others, we are committed to restoring our forests and bringing jobs to rural America," said Vilsack. "Whether the threat comes from wildfire, bark beetles or a changing climate, it is vital that we step up our efforts to safeguard our country's natural resources."

That strategy is detailed in a report issued Thursday: "Increasing the Pace of Restoration and Job Creation on our National Forests."

The report outlines a series of management steps for the 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

In a press conference, Vilsack noted the importance of action for the health of the forests, but also for the local communities and the economy.

"The national forests and grasslands are the backdrop and neighbor to many rural and urban communities, providing a range of values and benefits, including clean drinking water for millions of people across the U.S., vital wildlife habitat, a variety of recreation opportunities, and other multiple uses that support jobs and economic growth in rural communities," he said. "The Forest Service's restoration program of work is designed to sustain the ability of these lands to continue to deliver a full range of ecosystem services for generations to come."

The projects:

The following 10 new projects are approved for funding in 2012:

Burney-Hat Creek Basins Project, California - $605,000

Pine-Oak Woodlands Restoration Project, Missouri - $617,000

Shortleaf-Bluestem Community Project, Arkansas and Oklahoma - $342,00

Weiser-Little Salmon Headwaters Project, Idaho - $2,450,000

Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative, Idaho - $324,000

Southern Blues Restoration Coalition, Oregon - $2,500,000

Lakeview Stewardship Project, Oregon - $3,500,000

Zuni Mountain Project, New Mexico - $400,000

Grandfather Restoration Project, North Carolina - $605,000

Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group Cornerstone Project, California - $730,000

The following 10 Collaborative Forest Landscape projects were approved for funding in 2010 and will continue to receive funding in 2012:

Selway-Middle Fork Clearwater Project, Idaho

Southwestern Crown of the Continent, Montana

Colorado Front Range, Colorado

Uncompahgre Plateau, Colorado

4 Forest Restoration Initiative, Arizona

Southwest Jemez Mountains, New Mexico

Dinkey Landscape Restoration Project, California

Deschutes Skyline, Oregon

Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, Washington

Accelerating Longleaf Pine Restoration, Florida



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