Nebraska's trees and forests are experiencing steady declines, according to recent data released by the U.S. Forest Service. However, a newly formed partnership to reverse this trend has gained significant momentum with the announcement of a $4.3 million grant from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The Nebraska Forest Restoration Partnership brings together the Nebraska Forest Service, the state's natural resources districts and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to address declines in the state's forests and windbreaks.
Using the award, partners will work directly with landowners to increase the scale and pace of forest restoration statewide. This includes planting 1.5 million trees, providing new management of 30,000 acres of declining forests, increasing the health and resiliency of 7,000 acres of vulnerable forests, and restoring 250 linear miles of agricultural windbreaks.
"The Forest Restoration Partnership is an exciting investment in the state's tree and forest resources," says Adam Smith, Forestry and Fire Bureau chief of Nebraska Forest Service. "To have the state's natural resources districts, Game and Parks Commission and the university involved will deliver results in a way that dwarfs the capacity of any one entity."
As part of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Nebraska Forest Service works with UNL faculty, centers and other entities on a wide array of programs related to environmental stewardship, Extension education and research.
"The Nebraska Forest Service puts the science of forest management into practice across Nebraska," says Mike Boehm, Harlan vice chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and University of Nebraska vice president for agriculture and natural resources. "This award benefits our state's forests, ecosystems, working agricultural landscapes and, most of all, the landowners who have invested so much into the stewardship and resiliency of their land."
Funds from the award will be available for qualifying landowners as early as spring 2021.
Martens is a communications specialist with the Nebraska Forest Service.