News Release Date: May 25, 2016
Contact: Tina Boehle, 208.387.5875
BOISE –The Department of the Interior has announced a second year of funding for the Wildland Fire Resilient Landscapes Program. The National Park Service is either the lead agency or a collaborator on projects that total nearly $2 million in funding of the $10 million allocated for the program. National Park Service units within the program include Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Saguaro National Park, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and Curecanti National Recreation Area.
The Resilient Landscapes Program uses a different approach to achieve fire resiliency goals across landscapes. By planning across jurisdictions, the projects aim to restore and maintain broad landscapes, so they are resilient to fire-related disturbances in accordance with management objectives."The successes we saw in the first year of the Resilient Landscapes Program have been encouraging. We're grateful for the continued funding so we can carry on the work that was started, as long-term efforts are needed to truly reach the goal of fire resilience in these ecosystems," stated Nate Benson, NPS National Fire Science and Ecology Program Lead.The 2015 annual reports backed up Benson's perspective. Noted in one of the reports, "the project stimulated deliberate planning between organizations that share a common vision but had not had much communication previously… the [Resilient Landscapes] program provided the catalyst."
A summary of 2015 accomplishments for projects that include the National Park Service may be found on the following pages. More information about the program, including amounts awarded for each project may be found on the Department of the Interior's website.
Resilient Landscapes Funded Projects – NPS Lead Agency
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Other Partners: Sequoia National Forest, CalFire, UC Berkeley
The Grant Grove Peninsula Resilient Landscapes Collaborative had several successes in fiscal year 2015, despite the continuing drought and the 151,623 acreRough Fire. Previous prescribed fires proved to be of significant benefit when the Rough Fire came racing up canyon burning over 13,000 acres within the collaborative area. It was a high profile fire with many concerned about the potential impact to the giant sequoia groves.While the Rough Fire may have had some negative effects the benefits will continue for years to come. For example, park wildland fire staff will be able to use this fire as a holding line for future prescribed fires.
Saguaro National Park
Other Partners: Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, United States Geological Survey, Coronado National Forest, Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center
In FY15, a total of 3,267 acres of buffelgrass were treated as part of the Southern Arizona Collaborative. In addition, Resilient Landscape funding was used to support 36 training events relating to the invasive buffelgrass. To reach the Resilient Landscape goals and objectives, activities included herbicide applications both aerial and ground-based, manual removal, outreach and education, and information gathering on urban buffelgrass fires. Because of multiple germination events and viable seed (at least 5 years) in the soil, multiple and repeated treatments are required. Acres reported include initial treatments as well as follow-up treatments to help restore infested areas and control the spread of buffelgrass.
Valles Caldera National Preserve
Other Partners:Valles Caldera Trust, Bureau of Indian Education, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, Bandelier National Monument, U.S. Geological Survey, USDA Agricultural Research Service Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Santa Fe National Forest, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Santa Clara Pueblo, Pueblo of Jemez, State of New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, City of Santa Fe Fire Department, New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute, Forest Guild, Hawks Aloft, Inc., Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, The Nature Conservancy, WildEarth Guardians, Texas Tech University –College of Agricultural Sciences &Natural Resources, University of Arizona, University of Maryland –Center for Environmental Science –Appalachian Laboratory, University of New Mexico - Department of Civil Engineering, New Mexico State University, Amy Biehl High School, Los Alamos Public Schools
The overarching goal for the Valles Caldera National Preserve's (VALL) 10-year Resilient Landscapes (RL) restoration plan was developed through a collaborative process that engaged over 60 individuals representing 35 agencies and organizations: "Improve the resilience of ecosystems to recover from wildfires and other natural disturbance events in order to sustain healthy forests and watersheds for future generations." Projects include forest thinning, planned burning and managing natural fires, riparian and wetland restoration, road closures and restoration, livestock range restoration, and control of non-native invasive species. In FY2015, VALL made considerable progress in all categories:
- Contractor successfully thinned 850 acres of second-growth high-density ponderosa pine forest
- Volunteer citizen teams removed over 12 miles of old livestock fencing, restoring open grasslands to wildlife movements and removing recreational barriers
- The YCC crew completed contour felling of standing dead (burned) trees in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) boundary near the community of La Cueva on the Preserve's western boundary, and re-seeded disturbed areas in the Preserve's Historic Headquarters district and La Jara Creek
- Noxious non-native weeds (thistles) were controlled on sites supporting large populations (235 acres total scattered across the Preserve)
- VALL archaeologists surveyed over 1,100 acres of forest lands ahead of the R.L. thinning contract
- Cooperators at New Mexico State University successfully grew 2,400+ ponderosa pine seedlings from different genetic stocks from warmer climate regions in New Mexico, to plant them on the Preserve in spring 2016
- Scientists from VALL and collaborating universities and organizations continued their monitoring efforts for post-restoration changes in vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, stream-water quality and hydrology.
Resilient Landscapes Funded Projects – NPS as a Partner
Cumberland Island National Seashore
Lead Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service –Region 4 (Southeast Region)
Other Partners: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service –Northeast Region, Bureau of Land Management –Eastern States, US Forest Service –Southern Region, The Conservation Fund, The Longleaf Alliance, Sandhills Longleaf Pine Conservation Partnership, Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance, South Lowcountry –ACE Basin Longleaf Partnership
Much of the efforts last year focused on building/strengthening relations with the various conservation organizations around four core areas: Great Dismal Swamp NWR, Carolina Sandhills NWR, Okefenokee NWR/Cumberland Island NP and St Marks NWR/ Lathrop Bayou (BLM).Most of the FY15 funding was used in preparation for the FY16 winter and spring burning season.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Curecanti National Recreation Area
Lead Agency –Bureau of Land Management –Colorado State Office
Other Partners: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service –Region 6 (Mountain-Prairie Region)
In FY15, the Southwest Colorado Collaborative used Resilient Landscape funding to conduct 2,090 acres of vegetation treatments.These treatments were complete in three BLM Districts (Colorado –Southwest, Colorado –Northwest, and Utah –Canyon Country), two National Park Service units (Curecanti NRA and Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP), and the Fish and Wildlife Service.In addition, 1,214 acres were treated within the collaborative using DOI fuels funds.
Resilient Landscapes and DOI fuels funded treatments ranged from prescribed fire to restore fire regime condition class within ponderosa pine vegetation types, to invasive species (both Tamarix and Bromus tectorum) treatments, to Gunnison Sage Grouse habitat improvement, to Community Assistance WUI treatments.Also, planning for several project areas was initiated with cultural inventory work. Finally, numerous partners were engaged and their funding leveraged to increase the pace of the collaborative's restoration efforts.