On December 20th, the 2018 Farm Bill became law, reauthorizing several expenditures in the preceding Farm Bill of 2014. Included in the bill is the continuation of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), which encourages collaborative, science-based land management of priority forest landscapes, like the Grandfather Project on the Grandfather Ranger District in Pisgah National Forest. The Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership (NPFP) is an alliance of diverse stakeholders committed to collaborative forest management- the kind of management exemplified by the CFLRP.
Representing a variety of key stakeholder interests including conservation groups, wildlife/angling/hunting organizations, recreational clubs and forest product businesses, NPFP seeks to find win-win forest management solutions. For over half a decade, NPFP has been active in the National Forest Services’ land management plan that will provide a framework for how the 1.1 million acres of Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests and their resources will be managed for the next twenty years.
“The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program is the future of national forest management– making better decisions that promote ecological and social sustainability by involving the people who know the forests best,” says Sam Evans, Senior Attorney and Leader of the National Forest and Parks Program of Southern Environmental Law Center and member of NPFP. “We’re glad that Congress remains committed to this innovative and important program.”
Specifically, Section 8629 of the Farm Bill extends the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program through 2023 and increases the funding authorization from $40 million to $80 million. This authorization allows the Forest Service to extend funding for current CFLRP projects beyond the normal 10-year maximum on a case-by-case basis if the projects continue to meet eligibility guidelines. The reauthorization of the CFLRP provides wide reaching benefits to the region economically, ecologically and recreationally. “These opportunities cannot be seized without collaborative efforts like those formed through the CFLRP and we are encouraged to see federal support for this expanded,” says Sophia Paulos, Economic Development Director of Graham County, NC and member of NPFP.
A local beneficiary of the CFLRP, The Grandfather Restoration Project in Pisgah National Forest, now has the potential to be funded through 2023. The project has been a tremendous collaborative success for Pisgah National Forest; funding by the CFLRP has restored fire to over 30,000 acres, thereby reducing wildfire risk, increasing forest resiliency and creating habitat for native species. It has saved hemlocks from invasive species like the hemlock woolly adelgid, restored pine and oak woodlands, provided wood for the local economy and removed non-native invasive plants from Wild and Scenic Wilson Creek.
“The Grandfather Project is an exciting example of how the USFS can receive collaborative input from a diverse set of interest groups and channel that energy into large-scale habitat management accomplishments,” says Chris Coxen, District Biologist for the National Wild Turkey Federation and member of NPFP. “Collaboration is hugely emphasized under the new Forest Plan and the Grandfather Project is a perfect example of what successful projects should look like once the new plan is implemented.”
By raising awareness of collaborative forest management, educating the public and encouraging civic engagement, the NPFP is raising the bar for grassroots movements and resource management plans on a national level. They have become a voice for the region of Western North Carolina, reaching beyond the National Forest Service plan, serving as a model of bipartisan effort and collaborative forest management.
For more information on the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership or for press inquiries please contact Katie Richter at Katie@darbycommunications.com.
About Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership
In 2013, the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership was formed by a variety of forest stakeholders to foster civic engagement and positive guidance in creating the best possible management plan revision for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. The Partnership strives to create a lasting voice for innovative management and public investment in the public