USDA grants $11 million to the Pelican River Forest project in the Northwoods
The Pelican River Forest Project received $11 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The funding came from the Forest Legacy Program.
The Pelican River Forest is a 70,000 acre conservation project in Oneida County as well as parts of Langlade and Forest County.
The Forest Legacy Program grant is for roughly 56,000 acres. The same amount the Wisconsin DNR had been trying to secure conservation easements for.
The Conservation Fund told WXPR this USDA funding has been in the works for a while and had already been factored into its plans to protect the land.
It's still working with the DNR to secure easements.
The DNR was seeking $4 million from the Knowles Nelson Program Fund to purchase those easements.
They had concerns about the future economic development of the region if the conservation easement was approved.
"These forests, identified by state, tribal, and non-profit partners as vital to local communities, are critical to the health of our planet and the livelihoods of millions of Americans," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement about the $188 million in Forest Legacy Project grants awards in 2023. "As private forest landowners continue to face pressures to convert forests, the Forest Legacy program keeps working forests working."
According to the news release about the 2023 Forest Legacy Projects, "These investments in the nation’s working forests were made possible by the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The Inflation Reduction Act, signed in August 2022, provided a historic investment of $700 million over ten years to permanently conserve state and privately-owned forestlands through the Forest Legacy Program. This funding complements the program’s annual appropriations which were permanently reauthorized through the passage of the Great American Outdoors in 2019."
The $11 million for the Pelican River Forest comes from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.