The term ‘restoration’ usually conjures up pictures of fine antiques, autos, or other rarities and collectibles, restored to original condition but not necessarily used in their original roles: you won’t find many restored autos in rush hour traffic.
But for hundreds of restoration projects conducted each year across thousands of acres of national forest lands, the goal is just the opposite: return the landscape to its original condition and function. The USDA Forest Service conducts myriad sizes of restoration projects across 193-million-acres of forests and grasslands for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is always the same: to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
In the aftermath of a natural disaster like a wildfire, the exposed natural resources are susceptible to erosion and other factors that will continue to degrade their function and sustainability. These conditions severely impact both aquatic and wildlife habitat, and need to be addressed as quickly and effectively as possible.
Restoration does not always mean that something terrible happened, like a hurricane or wildfire. In many cases, restoration is conducted because conditions on the forest have changed over time, caused in some cases by historic uses, decades-old practices, or other landscape changes, natural or manmade. In many cases a restoration project will be designed to help reduce the instances or spread of wildfires to protect lives, communities and the natural resources. These projects often provide other benefits, including improved wildlife habitat, increased recreational opportunities, and elevated functions for watersheds for clean drinking water and aquatic habitat.
Restoration projects protect and stimulate the natural resources for a variety of outcomes and purposes. They are a vital component and function of the USDA Forest Service in caring for the land and serving people all across the nation.