Federal/state collaboration will protect and manage natural resources on the state’s two national forests
COLUMBIA, S.C. —The U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and the South Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC) have entered into two wide-ranging agreements that will allow the agencies to work together in providing long-term active forest management on federally owned forestlands in the Palmetto State.
The agreements, called Good Neighbor Authority and Stewardship Contracting, are products of the U.S. Congress’ 2014 Farm Bill and the Agricultural Act of 2014, respectively, and empower the USFS to contract with state agencies and other non-governmental entities to perform large-scale land management services, such as timber harvesting, wildlife habitat improvement and watershed restoration, among others, on South Carolina’s two national forests.
Covering more than 630,000 acres, the Sumter National Forest in the upstate and Francis Marion National Forest in the Low Country also constitute the largest single property ownership in SCDNR’s Wildlife Management Area program (WMA).
“We are particularly excited about the prospects of using these agreements to move habitat restoration forward in a timely and efficient manner on those Forest Service lands that lie within our S.C. Bobwhite Initiative focal areas,” said SCDNR Director Alvin Taylor. The S.C. Bobwhite Initiative is a statewide effort to restore habitat for bobwhite quail and similar declining song bird species.
Originally developed to provide public hunting areas across the state, the WMA program has evolved to a more multiple-use focus that provides opportunities for all wildlife enthusiasts.
“This is a great first step in what will be a long-term partnership that benefits all three agencies and the public,” said State Forester and SCFC Director Scott Phillips. “With the Forest Service wanting to accelerate management activities on its lands and SCDNR continually working to achieve its wildlife objectives, the Forestry Commission is the natural partner to provide its forest management expertise in this effort.”
Francis Marion & Sumter National Forests’ Forest Supervisor Rick Lint added, “I am looking forward to furthering resource management and our public service alongside the Forestry Commission and Department of Natural Resources with these agreements.”
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