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Mississippi headwaters among areas targeted by feds for reforestation

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Two federal agencies plan to replenish the forests around the Mississippi River headwaters as part of a plan to cut wildfire risks and improve water quality.

The Associated Press reports the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRSC) are steering $30 million toward 13 projects around the country.

Agriculture Undersecretary Robert Bonnie announced the projects at one of the sites in Montana. Both the Forest Service and the NRSC are part of the Ag Department.

The Mississippi headwaters were part of a swath of forest that was heavily damaged by a windstorm in July of 2012. In outlining plans for the area, the agencies say they'll focus on reforestation, reducing hazardous fuel, controlling non-native species, and managing the ecosystem.

Some of the headwaters area is included in the Chippewa National Forest, but officials say the program also involves working with private landowners on thinning trees and removing brush.

The 13 projects also include one in northwestern Wisconsin. The agencies say they'll work with local governments, private landowners, and tribes to restore eight watersheds that feed into Lake Superior. Apart from improving wildlife habitat and water quality, they hope the project will set a precedent for more collaboration.

The agencies allocated $435,000 for the Minnesota project; $625,000 for the Wisconsin one.

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