New partnership provides funds to landowners who improve forest health.
Funds are now available for forest landowners near the Sam Houston National Forest through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership.
This partnership between USDA Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Texas A&M Forest Service looks to improve forest health and resiliency on the Sam Houston National Forest and surrounding private forestland.
Landowners may be eligible for financial assistance to implement prescribed burning and thinning treatments on their property which helps reduce wildfire threat, prevent Southern Pine Beetle infestations and improve forest health.
Management practices such as prescribed fire enable landowners to contribute to community safety and restore ecosystems on their land.
“Overgrown vegetation contributes to wildfires that damage the ecosystem and threaten communities,” said Andy McGrady, fuels coordinator for Texas A&M Forest Service. “Using prescribed fire will help return the ecosystem back to its natural state and reduce the threat of devastating wildfire.”
The partnership also focuses on improving habitats for endangered species, reducing attacks from invasive pests, like Southern Pine Beetle and protecting water quality through thinning treatments.
While Texas has not had a Southern Pine Beetle outbreak in over 20 years, it’s important that landowners and resource professionals remain cautious of this threat.
“Thinning overly dense pine stands is a proactive way to prevent a Southern Pine Beetle outbreak from occurring and increase the overall health of the watershed—where the majority of Houston gets its drinking water,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Staff Forester Shane Harrington said.
Priority areas for this project consist of Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto and Walker counties. Eligible landowners can visit their local TFS office for specific information or visit www.tfsweb.tamu.edu/jointchiefs for information on how to apply for funding.
Applications for prescribed burning must be submitted by Feb. 15, there is no submission deadline for landowners applying for thinning funds.