Sacramento December 2, 2016 – More than $15 million spread across 34 California counties will be used to remove dead and dying trees and thin fuels that could otherwise exacerbate wildfires, CAL FIRE announced today. Using state funds and fees collected from homeowners who live in California’s urban-wildland interface, CAL FIRE awarded the $15.75 million in 107 separate grants to fire safe councils, resource conservation districts, cities, counties, park districts, fire departments, and other entities. The funds will help reduce the public safety threat of trees at risk of falling on roads, homes, and other infrastructure.
These Fire Prevention and Tree Mortality Grants will help rural California cope with a tree mortality crisis connected to an ongoing five-year drought. An estimated 102 million trees have died in California forests since 2010, according to the U.S. Forest Service, elevating the threat of wildfires. Since January 1, 2016 CAL FIRE has responded to over 5,700 wildfires, an increase of 23 percent over last year to date. The funds are targeted to communities in the State Responsibility Area (SRA), where the state is financially responsible for the prevention and suppression of wildfire.
“Communities in high-risk areas for wildfire and tree mortality need assistance and support,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director and California’s state forester. “These grants focus on reducing wildfire risk through education, planning, and the removal of dead trees and hazardous fuel. We look forward to seeing the results of these projects and the safeguarding effects they have on communities.”
Out of 264 submittals, a total of 107 projects were selected. The $15.75 million in funding includes $9.75 million from the State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund allowing local fire departments, fire districts, other local community districts and non-profit organizations to create projects that help to reduce the threat of wildfires around homes within the SRA. An additional $6 million from the state General Fund supports of local efforts to remove dead and dying trees that pose a threat to public health and safety and projects that reduce the wildfire threat to homes.
A full list of the grant projects can be viewed at: http://www.fire.ca.gov/Grants/downloads/2017_SRA_TM_GrantAwardees.pdf
Apart from these grants, CAL FIRE this year intends to treat 35,000 acres through prescribed burns and fuel treatments and complete 250,000 Defensible Space inspections across the state to ensure homeowners clear at least 100 feet around buildings. This includes removing all dead or dying grass, brush, and trees, removing tree branches up to height of six feet from the ground, and cleaning leaves, needles or debris off roofs and gutters. Learn more at www.ReadyForWildfire.org.