VALLEJO, Calif., March 21, 2023 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is investing over $96 million in wildfire protection projects across California, as part of the Community Wildfire Defense Grant (CWDG) program. The CWDG program is designed to assist communities — including Tribal communities, nonprofit organizations, state forestry agencies, and Alaska Native corporations — with planning for and mitigating wildfire risks on Tribal, state, and privately managed land.
In California, over $96 million will fund 33 projects across the state with first-round grants. More details on individual projects by state can be found on CWDG – Funded Proposals.
Proposals underwent a competitive selection process that included review panels made up of Tribal representatives and state forestry agencies. Guidelines within the law prioritized at-risk communities that have been impacted by a severe disaster, are at a high or very high potential for wildfire hazard and classified as low income.
“Projects were selected using a collaborative, inclusive process that engaged Tribes and state forestry agencies,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “All projects include at least two of the primary selection criteria mandated in the legislation. And in all cases, these projects are taking critical steps to protect homes, property, businesses and people’s lives from catastrophic wildfires.”
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.
“With programs like the Community Wildfire Defense Grant, we continue our work throughout California to restore natural forest health and diversity with thoughtful, science-based fuels treatments,” said Jennifer Eberlien, Regional Forester for the Pacific Southwest Region. “With our partners, we are doing this work in the right place, at the right time and right scale — to reduce risk to communities, critical infrastructure, and natural resources from wildfires across the state.”
The Forest Service will announce another round of funding later in 2023, and additional communities can apply. The number of selected proposals in future rounds will depend on available funding. More information about funded proposals and announcements are available on the Community Wildfire Defense Grants website.
Along with establishing the CWDG 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. This announcement also comes on the heels of the president’s fiscal year 2024 budget, which proposes a permanent pay solution for wildland firefighters, increased capacity for mental and physical health services, and funds for housing repair, renovation, and construction.
Grounded in world-class science and technology — and rooted in communities — the USDA Forest Service connects people to nature and each other. As a federal agency serving the American people, the Forest Service cares for shared natural resources in ways that promote lasting economic, ecological and social vitality. In doing this, the agency supports nature in sustaining life. To learn more about the Forest Service, visit U.S. Forest Service (usda.gov).
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