USDA signs shared stewardship agreement with Texas

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a Shared Stewardship agreement last week to establish a framework for federal and state agencies to improve collaboration in responding to natural resource concerns and ecological challenges in Texas.

The agreement, also referred to as a memorandum of understanding, is between the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service—both part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture—and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as well as the Texas A&M Forest Service.

“This agreement strengthens the already strong partnership between the Forest Service and the State of Texas,” said Secretary Perdue. “Through Shared Stewardship, Texas and the Forest Service will work together to identify landscape-scale priorities and build capacity to improve forest conditions.”

Texas is the 15th state to agree to a Shared Stewardship framework, which uses a modern and collaborative approach to focus on landscape-scale forest restoration activities to protect at-risk communities and watersheds across all lands. The agreement with Texas will focus on encouraging strong, long-term forest management programs, promoting sound and scientific silvicultural practices and aligning various agency land management activities to meet common goals.

“Generations of Texans have prioritized the responsible stewardship of our forest lands, and I am grateful to Secretary Perdue and this administration for their commitment to preserving this legacy,” Abbott said. “This agreement is an important step toward strengthening our partnership with the federal government and renewing our commitment to responsible forest management. Working together, I am confident we will achieve the goals of this Shared Stewardship agreement and ensure a brighter future for the State of Texas.”

In addition to providing a framework for how the federal and state agencies will work together, the agreement also builds upon the work of the Texas Forestry Council who have been working together to address shared forest resource issues in the state since 2009. The Council includes the Texas A&M Forest Service, Academic Deans from Stephen F. Austin State University and Texas A&M University Forestry Schools; as well as senior leadership from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Forests and Grasslands of Texas, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Parks Service, AgriLife Extension Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.