The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service announced Thursday it will invest $35.1 million in Land and Water Conservation Fund projects in Oregon and Washington, including buying more land for a forest project near Reedsport in Douglas County.
The projects are designed to conserve critical forest and wetland habitat, support rural economic recovery and increase public access to national forests and grasslands, according to a USDA news release. The Forest Service administers the LWCF Land Acquisition and the Forest Legacy programs, which conserve public and private land.
Land-acquisition projects add lands to national forests. Three land-acquisition projects in Oregon and two phases of a project in Washington were approved for funding in 2021:
The Wasson Forest project (near Reedsport) will allow completion of a three-phase land acquisition in the Siuslaw National Forest that also received LWCF funding in 2019 and 2020. The lands include a segment of Wasson Creek, adjacent to the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness, that was designated in 2019 through the Dingell Act. Two phases of the Washington Cascades project (near Cle Elum, Washington) received funding to consolidate checkerboard lands on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest south of the Interstate 90 corridor. This will improve management for recreation and conservation efforts in the Yakima River Watershed. The Crooked River Gorge project (near Redmond) will improve recreation and river access for hiking, fishing, hunting, and paddling on the Crooked Wild and Scenic River Corridor in the Ochoco National Forest. The Elk Creek project (near Enterprise) will improve recreation access and camping opportunities along Elk and Crow Creeks on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
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The Forest Legacy Program is a conservation program administered by the Forest Service in partnership with state agencies to encourage the protection of privately owned forest lands through conservation easements or land purchases.
Projects in Oregon to receive funding include two projects led by the Oregon Department of Forestry:
Spence Mountain Forest project in Klamath County Arch Cape Watershed project in Clatsop County
Forest Legacy Program projects in Washington that will receive funds in 2021 include two projects led by the Washington Department of Natural Resources:
Dewatto Headwaters Forest project, phase III, in Kitsap and Mason counties Yacolt Forest project, phase II, in Clark County
The Forest Service will invest more than $94 million nationwide to fund 28 projects under the Forest Legacy Program this year and $123 million to fund Land Acquisition Program projects, including projects for recreation access and other purposes, this year.