The U.S. Forest Service in December 2009 awarded The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina a two-year, $400,000 grant to recruit, train, develop, and provide firefighters for prescribed fire work, part of the organization’s forest management strategy.
The grant is designed to increase the use of prescribed fire, in cooperation with USFS fire crews, principally on the Francis Marion National Forest and, to a lesser degree, the Sumter National Forest. The strategy is effective in reducing the risk of harmful wildfires while improving habitats for wildlife and endangered species. Prescribed fire also benefits the health of the state’s longleaf pine forests.
“The Nature Conservancy has long been a strong partner with the Forest Service here in South Carolina and around the country,” said Paul Bradley, forest supervisor for the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests . “We are looking forward to working together on such an important part of national forest management – prescribed burning. This partnership will go a long way toward reducing the risk of wildfires, improving wildlife habitat, and restoring native ecosystems, especially on the coast.”
“We will use the funding to hire a second seasonal fire crew in 2010 and 2011, as well as a full-time ‘burn boss’ for two years,” TNC-SC Executive Director Mark Robertson said in a message to the South Carolina Chapter’s board of trustees. “The ‘burn boss’ will be qualified to direct the crews and prepare fire plans that are required before any fires can be ignited. The grant also will pay for supplies, travel, and housing for the seasonal crew.”
With other stewardship funds, TNC-SC plans to purchase a fully-equipped woodlands fire truck to support this work now and into the future.
“This grant is the result of excellent work by TNC-SC’s State Fire Manager Tom Dooley and Grants Specialist Susanne Holmes,” Robertson said. “It will significantly increase our capacity to carry out prescribed fire, and it is an important step in building up the wise use of fire in our state.”
Funding for this project was provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to implement provisions of the Recovery Act to put Americans back to work and rejuvenate the nation’s economy. The Recovery Act provided USDA with nearly $28 billion in funding. Of that, $1.15 billion has been allocated to the Forest Service for project work in forest restoration, hazardous fuels reduction, construction and maintenance of facilities, trails, and roads, green energy projects, and grants to states, tribes, and private landowners.
The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. For more on the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests, please visit www.fs.fed.us/r8/fms.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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