USDA recognizes Redwood Valley Collaborative, involving University of California, Green Diamond Timber and other area landowners, for work in reducing threat of sudden oak death disease

DAVIS, California , May 17, 2012 (press release) – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan presented USDA’s prestigious Two Chiefs’ Partnership Award to representatives of the Redwood Valley Collaborative (RVC) for their work in reducing the threat of Sudden Oak Death (SOD) disease in the Redwood Valley of California, during a brief ceremony at the Richard E. Lyng USDA Service Center in Davis yesterday.

"This project is a great example of partnership and the ability of agencies and landowners to collaborate swiftly and effectively to protect our forest resources," Merrigan said. “It shows how proactive communities concerned about the health of their landscapes can come together, attract the support of state and national authorities, and work to protect our forests and working lands."

Soon after the SOD was detected in northern Humboldt County, the RVC was formed by the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) jointly with the Cookson Foundation, Green Diamond Timber and other land owners in the Redwood Valley area. In the spring of 2011, federal and state agencies, including the USFS, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)and NRCS, joined forces with UCCE and quickly mobilized resources to control the pathogen in Redwood Valley and halt its spread to neighboring forests. Technical and financial assistance for this work was provided by UCCE, CAL FIRE, North Coast Land Conservancy, Green Diamond Resource Company, USFS, and NRCS.

Over the past 12 months, RVC has treated more than 375 acres infested with SOD in the Redwood Valley in Humboldt County. For a decade, this disease has ravaged areas in northern California, killing over five million trees. The partnership has reduced the disease on private lands and reduced the risk of infection on adjacent high value areas, including Redwood National and State Parks, lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Humboldt County, and the Yurok and Hoopa Valley Indian Reservations.

USFS, UC Davis, NRCS and CAL FIRE developed the biological and cultural evaluations and treatment recommendations. CAL FIRE and California Department of Corrections provided labor from two Conservation Camps and Able Forestry handled the in-camp logging. Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation staff marked trees. UC Extension led the communication and coordination effort that engaged the affected landowners and stakeholders. UC Extension also provided project administration and financial oversight. Infected woody material was taken to nearby biomass power plants to create electricity.

“Funding from the USDA Forest Service and the NRCS has been critical to the swift response in Redwood Valley,” said UCCE County Director Yana Valachovic. “Landowner support has also been critical to the success of the project.”

The USFS and NRCS each contributed $200,000 through the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act and Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, which was matched by UCCE and North Coast Land Conservancy. Green Diamond Resource Company treated its own land.

“We are very pleased to receive this award,” said Randy Moore, U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional Forester. “This really illustrates our all-lands approach in working across boundaries to optimize our efforts. This hard work which continues today is vital to the health of our nation’s forests here in California and beyond.”

“I am so happy to see this multi-agency public-private approach to solving a critical resource problem on our forest lands recognized,” said NRCS State Conservationist Ed Burton. “This work exemplifies good stewardship.”

The Two Chiefs’ Partnership Award is a national award that is presented annually to recognize people and teams that work collaboratively to support conservation and forest stewardship. Award winners are selected by the Chiefs of the USDA Forest Service (USFS) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

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