Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced $3.4 million in funding from the U.S. Forest Service for restoration projects in four of New Mexico’s national forests.

The projects will aim to promote healthy watersheds, reduce the threat of wildfires, and improve the functioning of forest ecosystems by reducing the number and density of small diameter trees on public forest lands in New Mexico. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 10 projects in the Carson, Cibola, Gila, and Lincoln National Forests.

“These projects will be instrumental in helping restore some of the most high priority areas in New Mexico’s national forests,” said Udall, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Agriculture. “With New Mexico facing more severe wildfires every year, it is imperative we focus on strategies to prevent future wildfires, increase the health of watersheds, and improve the overall forest ecosystems. I was proud to help secure funding that helps the U.S. Forest Service invest in the long-term health of New Mexico’s forests.”

“Forests in New Mexico provide us with drinking water, space for traditional activities like hunting and fishing, and boost our outdoor recreation economy. This critical funding will help restore New Mexico’s forests and protect our communities from the threat of wildfires, provide support to promote healthy watersheds, and improve the forest ecosystem,” said Heinrich. “I will continue to work to ensure these restoration projects remain a priority.”

Recipients of this year’s grant money include private forest sector businesses, conservation organizations, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the Pueblo of Santa Ana. Of the total funding, $1.76 million will go toward five projects in the Cibola National Forest.

The projects will conduct forest landscape restoration planning and analyses; develop products, markets and capacity for the utilization of small-diameter forest materials; conduct community outreach and youth education programs; and complete critical on-the-ground forest and watershed restoration activities.