Recovery Act Funds Bring Jobs, Reduced Wildland Fire Risk to Mescalero Apache Tribe in New Mexico
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture highlighted the jobs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The evidence is clear – and growing by the day – that the Recovery Act is putting people back to work.
"President Obama’s Recovery Act has helped to create jobs and lay a new foundation for economic growth during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression,” said Natural Resources and the Environment Under Secretary Harris Sherman. “USDA has used Recovery Act funding to create badly-needed jobs and stimulate local economies; help farmers and rural businesses make it through tough times; ensure that struggling families can put food on the table; and build and revitalize critical infrastructure in rural communities across America.”
USDA Forest Service Recovery Act funds are helping Mescalero Apache Tribe members in New Mexico get back to work while supporting local and regional wood-dependent industries.
The 16 Springs Tribal Forest Protection Act Stewardship Project, one of three Forest Service-funded projects for the tribe, has created 24 new jobs thus far and is expected to sustain some jobs over the next three years.
The work will greatly reduce hazardous fuels and the associated grave risk of catastrophic fire to tribal lands, the Village of Ruidoso, and National Forest System lands.
Local workers will harvest, transport, and process commercial saw logs and small diameter biomass, stimulating the local economy with a cascade effect as more wood products become available for processing.
Two additional Forest Service Recovery Act grants totaling $4.5 million will help the tribe refit its sawmill, which is currently closed, to accept small-diameter material and develop a six mega-watt power generation facility in conjunction with the sawmill. These projects have created four sawmill jobs to date and are expected to create jobs in the future.
Since the Recovery Act was signed into law a year ago, USDA has moved quickly to get nearly $28 billion dollars out the door. The USDA Forest Service has distributed over $1 billion dollars to create private sector jobs and produce significant resource benefits. Forest Service Recovery Act projects are focused on: reducing wildfire risks; maintaining forest roads and trails; producing clean and abundant water; restoring forest health; improving energy efficiency of public and administrative facilities; converting wood to clean energy; and offering job training opportunities to youth.
“This spring and summer, over 600 Forest Service Economic Recovery projects will be going on across the nation accomplishing critical resource work and providing jobs and training to people who need them,” said Under Secretary Sherman.