WGA Signs Shared Stewardship MOU with USDA

In the face of mounting land management challenges, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Xochitl Torres Small spoke with five Western Governors at the 2024 Annual Meeting of the Western Governors’ Association about the importance of intergovernmental cooperation.    

To this end, the Governors signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), expanding the scope of a previous shared stewardship MOU that the USDA signed with WGA in 2018.  

"Shared stewardship, as the deputy secretary alluded to, is where it's all hands on deck," Idaho Governor Brad Little, said. "It's the forest service, it's the Bureau of Landmanagement, it's the tribes, it's industrial owners, it's private woodland owners, it's everybody. Because as she eloquently said, those fires, watersheds, and wildlife don't know where those borders are."

The USDA wasted no time in actionizing this agreement.  

During her keynote address at WGA’s 2024 Annual Meeting, Deputy Secretary Torres Small announced an investment of $12 million from the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA) for 22 Good Neighbor Authority projects across 13 states including Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.  

She also announced $54.6 million for 41 Joint Chiefs Landscape Scale Restoration Partner projects, a program created through the IIJA to reduce wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species. 

“I will forgive you if you say, ‘okay, what's the point of another MOU?’” Deputy Secretary Torres Small said. “But the one we signed today will… mark a new beginning for better integration when it comes to how forest and rangeland restoration projects are prioritized across different land ownerships. It creates new opportunities for us to work more closely with you on important issues, such as expanding rural high-speed internet and enhancing our support for farming and ranching communities.”

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