Environmental restoration work in Virginia’s George Washington National Forest got a boost this month thanks to newly announced federal grant funds.
Developed in a two and half year public collaborative process, the Lower Cowpasture Restoration and Management Project intends to improve forest health and resilience and the Cowpasture River watershed within the national forest. Project activities include diversifying previously cut-over forest stands, improving water quality, and removing non-native plants, among others, while protecting old growth forest and enhancing the trail network in the area. To achieve these aims, the U.S. Forest Service and partners will use timber harvest, forest thinning, and habitat management, combined with ongoing public involvement and enhanced monitoring.
When allocating more than $520,000 to the project, the U.S Department of Agriculture noted the unique collaboration behind the plans. The award-winning, multi-year process involved the George Washington National Forest Stakeholder Collaborative, which consists of about 20 local organizations and individuals with diverse interests, including SELC, who worked together to develop a project that now has broad support during the implementation phase.
“The commitment to collaboration by group members and the Forest Service, as well as great leadership by the steering committee, was critical in getting to this point,” said Kristin Davis, staff attorney. “We’re glad that the strengths of this project stood out on a national scale, proving that collaboratively developed projects can attract extra funding.”
The grant funding will come from the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Services through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership. Work on the project started in 2015.