Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl has announced that the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University will receive $2 million in 2007 to support its efforts to restore forest health.

In addition to the ERI funding, Kyl announced that the U.S. Forest Service approved another $2.3 million for forest thinning projects to restore forest health and reduce the risk of wildfire to 17 communities in Gila County.

“Proactive management of our forests not only is the best tool in combating wildfires, it is critical to restoring forest health and improving habitat for diverse species,” said Kyl, who has led the effort to secure the funding for these projects.

“I am pleased that Arizona will receive this critical funding to further research, develop and administer restoration and thinning treatments to Arizona’s forests.”

The ERI is a nationally recognized program that develops, translates and transfers science to the Forest Service and other land managers who design and implement forest treatments that restore forest health and reduce the risk of unnatural catastrophic fire to communities.

“I appreciate the continued support Senator Kyl demonstrates for the ERI,” said Wally Covington, director of the institute. “He is a firm believer in using the best available science to restore the ecological and economic health of forested landscapes.

“This funding will allow us to provide the science support requested by land managers, businesses and community stakeholders who need help,” Covington said.