USDA funding for forest and water conservation
The USDA announced its Forest Service is investing more than $218 million to fund Great American Outdoors Act projects. These projects will focus on conserving forest and wetland habitat, supporting rural economic recovery and increasing public access to national forests and grasslands.
John Crockett with the U.S. Forest Service said the funding will be split for two purposes.
“About $94 million of those funds will go towards 28 projects under the Forest Legacy program,” he said. “And then about $123 million of that will go to fund land acquisition programs on U.S. forest land.”
Crockett tells Brownfield an uptick in outdoor tourism during the pandemic highlighted the importance of the national forest system and maintaining and developing public lands.
“We saw a significant increase in people finding a place of refuge on national forests and in public lands…,” he said. “It provided a place of solitude for people in many ways.”
Crockett stresses that this and similar programs take many groups to operate fluidly and said it’s not just the federal government. He said the U.S. Forest Service is always working with willing sellers to add to public lands.