President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law is delivering nearly $200 million to communities across the nation at-risk of wildfires.
With 22 states receiving money, California communities will receive around a combined $80 million.
The big picture: The funding through the infrastructure bill comes as a $197 million investment in 100 project proposals from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.
- It specifically comes as part of the $1 billion new Community Wildfire Defense Grant program through the infrastructure law.
- The funds are designed to help the at-risk communities develop or update their wildfire protection plans, which includes properly marking evacuation routes and clearing overgrown weeds and dead vegetation from around homes.
State of play: Kern County will receive more than $3 million from the program. The Kern County Fire Department will receive around $2.75 million to purchase firing equipment and provide training to prescribed fire cadre members. The Kern Fire Safe Council will receive $540,000 to fund the ‘Be Aware, Be Prepared: Defend Your Space!’ Project that is focused on wildfire hazard reduction to individual homeowners.
- Tuolumne County is getting $10 million to provide defensible space work on nearly 1,300 homes, roadside vegetation management on approximately 23 miles of road and outreach to create additional Firewise Communities.
- Other major investments in California include $6.4 million to the Butte County Fire Department, $8.4 million to the Feather River Resource Conservation District, $10 million to the Fire Safe Council of Siskiyou County, $5 million to the Humboldt County Resource Conservation District, $6.8 million to the Plumas County Fire Safe Council.
What they’re saying: “It is clear that to address the crises that we are dealing with because of the climate crisis, and in particular the crisis of wildfires, I would urge us to transform how we think about how to fight them,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “Let’s transform how we think about fighting fires. For years, for example, our nation has invested primarily in wildfire response, putting fires out after they start. But to meet this moment, how about if we expand our focus to invest not just in response but in prevention, which is of course about preparedness and resilience, because we know the best time to fight a fire is before it starts.”
- “The reality is wildfires do not recognize boundaries or management jurisdictions, and these grants directed towards non federal lands will complement the ongoing work that the Forest Service and the Interior Department are undertaking to restore our federal lands,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.