“We are excited to execute this new stewardship agreement that will tackle some of the biggest conservation challenges facing our forests in the Pacific Northwest,” said Molly Pitts, NWTF Wildfire Crisis Strategy manager. “This new agreement allows us to continue our efforts to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires to our nation’s forests while also delivering on the NWTF’s Four Shared Values; it’s a win for outdoor recreationists, wildlife, forest health and all Americans.”
The agreement is going from being signed to on-the-ground conservation projects in just weeks. The first project of the expanded efforts in the Forest Service’s Region Six will transpire in the Chiloquin District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest in south-central Oregon.
Coined the Hawks Project, the initial undertaking is set to begin in early September and includes about 5,000 acres of work, including reducing overly dense sections of the forest – which are hazardous fuels that exacerbate wildfires – and meadow and riparian restoration, both making the forest safer against catastrophic wildfire and improving wildlife habitat by creating a more open understory. Additionally, partners will be working closely with a tribal liaison to reestablish and expand meadows that have been previously overtaken by encroaching timber on tribally owned lands.
Profits generated from the sale of forest products through the initial work will be funneled back into additional wildfire risk reduction and conservation projects on priority landscapes across Region Six.
This work is a component of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy, which the Forest Service formally announced in January 2022. Almost two years into the 10-year effort, the Wildfire Crisis Strategy is implementing a scaled-up, cross-boundary approach to reduce 20 million acres of hazardous fuels on Forest Service lands and up to 30 million acres beyond Forest Service lands with an array of agency, tribal and conservation partners. The NWTF has worked with the Forest Service in both developmental and implementational capacities on the strategy.
Prior to the announcement in 2022, the NWTF was a part of the Wildfire Risk Reduction Implementation Strategy Team that helped develop crucial aspects of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy. Moreover, the NWTF has also been a leader among conservation organizations in its policy work, advocating for legislation to boost wildfire risk reduction efforts that simultaneously benefit wildlife habitat.
Accelerated on-the-ground efforts between the NWTF and the Forest Service – as part of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy – began earlier this year in the Forest Service’s Region Five on the Klamath National Forest with a nearly 3,000-acre fuels reduction project. In addition, forest products from this project are traveling to a wood mill in Wyoming by railcar via the collaborative Timber Transfer Pilot, a proof-of-concept approach to show the social and ecological benefits of reinvigorating the age-old method of transporting timber, which could establish a new paradigm for future fuels reduction work.
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale.
2023 is the NWTF's 50th anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization's mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50-year celebration, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and the NWTF's people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future. Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.