GOLDEN, Colo. – The USDA Forest Service (USFS) and Colorado State Forest Service have finalized an expanded federal-state partnership that will indefinitely enable and increase management efforts on federal lands.
The Master Good Neighbor Agreement, signed this week, fosters a collaborative approach and leverages state resources to accomplish work across land ownership boundaries onto National Forest System lands. Eligible projects include those that protect water supplies, manage bark beetles, reduce wildfire risk and meet other forest management objectives.
Under the agreement, the CSFS will have the authority to conduct forest treatments on the 11 National Forests in Colorado, complementing work on state and private lands. The CSFS is working on a similar agreement with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Specific benefits of the Good Neighbor Authority include greater efficiencies and less need for creating and maintaining roads to address project work.
One of the Pioneer States
Colorado is now only the fourth state to finalize the forest management agreement between state and federal forestry agencies; the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources signed the first of such agreements with the USFS in August, and in the past two weeks similar agreements were signed in Michigan and Texas.
“The Good Neighbor Authority allows effective sharing of limited resources to achieve landscape-scale impacts that mitigate fire risk, improve forest health and reduce risk to life and property,” said Mike Lester, State Forester and Director of the Colorado State Forest Service.
The Good Neighbor program was expanded nationally in the 2014 Farm Bill and allows the USFS and BLM to enter into cooperative agreements with states to perform forest, rangeland and watershed restoration projects on federal lands. Although the Good Neighbor Authority now applies nationally, Colorado and Utah were first to test-pilot the policy starting in the year 2000.
“This Good Neighbor Agreement with the State of Colorado provides a strong foundation to accomplish important watershed and forest health restoration work,” said Dan Jirón, Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region of the USDA Forest Service. “Working across boundaries further enhances our ability to reduce wildfire risk, improve local economies and protect water supplies.”
While the USDA Forest Service takes action on National Forest lands, the CSFS works with private landowners to help them meet their management objectives to achieve healthy forests.
For further information on the Good Neighbor Authority, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/farmbill/gna.shtml.