Through funding in the bipartisan infrastructure law, UDSA’s Forest Service will provide up to $40 million to Trout Unlimited as part of a five-year agreement to improve watersheds on national forests and grasslands – home to many of America’s most important trout and salmon species. Trout Unlimited is identifying a national network of priority waters based on the best fisheries science and guided by its strategic plan.

The five-year National Watershed and Aquatic Restoration Initiative aims to increase the pace and scale of watershed restoration on national forests and grasslands, with priority given to projects that use local employees and contractors to improve water quality in underserved communities and on Tribal lands. The funding will build on a partnership between the two that has already restored more than 400 miles of important fish habitat, reconnected more than 700 miles of habitat by removing barriers to fish migration, and improved hundreds of thousands of acres of National Forest System lands, said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. In recent years, Trout Unlimited leveraged $20 million in Forest Service funding to carry out $62 million worth of projects.

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At the end of October, the National Wild Turkey Federation signed a similar landmark 20-year national master stewardship agreement with the Forest Service. which included a $50 million commitment allocated under the infrastructure law. When Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Forest Service’s wildfire crisis strategy at the beginning of this year, the NWTF began to identify areas where they could assist. Using funding made possible by this agreement, the NWTF will develop regional projects to protect communities, reduce wildfire risk, and improve forest health, wildlife habitat and water quality on national forests and grasslands.

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