Texas signs Good Neighbor Authority with US Forest Service
Taking care of America’s lands and natural resources is a big job. No single organization can do it alone. Knowing that we are stronger together — the USDA Forest Service has entered into a Good Neighbor Authority agreement with Texas A&M Forest Service to help conserve, protect and manage their Texas forests and grasslands.
Thursday, Oct. 22, Mark Van Every, forest supervisor for the USDA Forest Service National Forest and Grasslands in Texas, and Tom Boggus, Texas state forester and director of Texas A&M Forest Service signed a Good Neighbor Authority agreement.
“This concept of neighbor-helping-neighbor helps ensure that our national forests in Texas are well managed and stay healthy,” Van Every said.
According to Van Every, the U.S. Forest Service often lacks staffing to complete all the work needed on the forest. Under this agreement, Texas A&M Forest Service may perform forest management services on National Forest System lands. The state agency is able to provide the man-power needed to complete projects such as watershed restoration and protection, forest health thinning and general land management.
“We are happy to offer state services to our national neighbors,” Wes Moorehead Texas A&M Forest Service East Texas operations department head said. “Our staff has the skill, training and know-how to get the job done.”
In exchange, the state agency can receive reimbursement for the work and receive added benefits of on-the-job skills training and experience for Texas A&M Forest Service employees.
Moorehead notes that working on national lands helps keep agency foresters current on markets and silvicultural practices. It also creates a synergistic relationship with USFS.
Texas, known as the friendship state, is an early adopter of this type of relationship. Throughout the entire U.S., this is only the second such agreement struck. Following successful pilot projects in Colorado and Utah, the first official agreement occurred just two weeks earlier with the Chequamegon National Forest in Wisconsin.
“Sometimes it seems like federal and state agencies are speaking different languages. We have different constraints, requirements and guiding documents,” Boggus said. “But when it comes to on-the-ground management of our forests we all speak Texan. We’ll work together in the state’s best interest. And this agreement lets us do that.”