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|Beth Pendleton , Regional Forester
USDA Forest Service, Alaska Region
|Jim Nordlund, Alaska State Director
USDA Rural Development
|Release Date: September 30, 2010|
USDA Announces New Projects and Future Plans for Southeast Alaska
KETCHIKAN, Alaska- A USDA effort to support opportunities for job creation and economic development in Southeast Alaska was announced today in Ketchikan by US Forest Service Regional Forester Beth Pendleton and Alaska State Director for USDA Rural Development Jim Nordlund.
At a press conference held during the Tongass Futures Roundtable here, Pendleton announced the first major steps toward implementing the Transition Framework in Southeast Alaska. Several projects, funded by USDA Rural Development and the Forest Service, and an intensive “asset mapping” strategy, will provide jobs and outline the critical components to community economic stability for Southeast Alaska.
Pendleton introduced the Transition Framework in May 2010. Since then, USDA agencies in Alaska, along with Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, have begun coordination with communities; other federal agencies; State, local and tribal governments; Native organizations; and the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Components of the Framework include renewable energy, forest restoration and young growth management, fisheries and mariculture, community development, tourism and recreation, and subsistence..
“Our goal is to build upon Southeast Alaska's tremendous resource base to secure year-round sustainable jobs for the people who live in and depend on the Tongass for their livelihoods and lifestyle,” said Pendleton.
The Rural Development projects announced this week include funding for the construction of a new hospital in Wrangell. In total, over 20 projects in Southeast Alaska have been funded in 2010 by Rural Development (see attached list). The Forest Service has also recently funded a variety of projects in Southeast, awarding facilities, road, bridge, and fish passage restoration contracts on the Tongass National Forest.
“We have made a significant investment this year in Southeast because we believe in the economic vitality of the region,” said Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund. “Southeast has so much potential because of the tenacity of its people and its abundant natural resources. We consider our investments thus far a ‘down payment’ on future development, and we plan to collaborate fully in strategic economic development planning for the region,” Nordlund continued.
Asset mapping will provide the agencies with an inventory of key resources, networks, and emerging economic opportunities that can contribute to sustainable regional economic development. The strategic plan that emerges from this effort will guide USDA’s identification of ways to promote sustainable economic development, and use of agency programs to help stimulate business growth and job creation. A contract has been awarded to the Juneau Economic Development Council to lead the asset mapping and strategic plan effort.
“Steps we have taken under the Transition Framework effort illustrate the commitment by USDA to not only do long term planning to identify opportunities for support of communities’ needs, but to fund projects that provide diversified jobs and community stability in the near term,” said Pendleton.
The mission of the US Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of current and future generations.