Feds pour millions into wildfire defense

It may be years before we don't see smoky skies in Montana every August.
But the federal government is putting more money toward that goal.
wildland fire fighting in Montana, federal fire programs, montana living magazine, fire bomber dropping retardant
Department of Agriculture Secretary Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is investing nearly $9.5 million in wildfire protection projects across the Region as part of the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program.
The program is designed to assist communities. non-profit organizations, state forestry agencies and Alaska Native corporations with mitigating wildfire risks on tribal, state, and privately managed land.
The following projects in Montana were selected for the first round of funding:
  • Blackfoot Watershed  - $1,683,300 to increase the pace and scale of broadcast burning and thinning on approximately 1,500 acres of non-federal forested land to create communities of fire barriers. This is where fire can pass without destroying homes or infrastructure.
  • Lincoln County Wildland Urban Interface Communities Wildfire Risk Mitigation Campaign - $5,893,905 for fuels mitigation on approximately 500 acres of private land in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and other high-risk private lands. Education and outreach to residents about addressing wildfire risks.
  • North Gallatin Front Wildland Urban Interface Mitigation Project - $1,589,160 to mitigate the risk of wildland fire on approximately 1,000 acres in southwestern Montana. The project may help protect 1,077 households within the 28,944 acres of private land in the area, according to the USFS.
  • Treasure County Community Wildfire Protection Plan Update and Modernization -$117,648 to update and modernize Treasure County's Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

 This initial round of investments will assist communities in developing Community Wildfire Protection Plans, key roadmaps for addressing wildfire risks locally, as well as fund immediate actions to lower the risk of wildfire on non-federal land for communities where a Community Wildfire Protection Plan is already in place.

The Forest Service will announce another round of funding later in 2023, and additional communities will be able to apply. The number of selected proposals in future rounds will depend on available funding.

Along with establishing the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides an historic $3.5 billion investment in wildfire management through a suite of programs aimed at reducing wildfire risks, detecting wildfires, instituting firefighter workforce reforms and increasing pay for federal wildland firefighters.

More information about the funded proposals, as well as announcements about the grant program, is available on the Community Wildfire Defense Grants website.


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