A $1 billion Community Wildfire Defense Grant program was recently unveiled by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The newly launched initiative is intended to help at-risk communities to plan for and mitigate wildfire effects.
The legislation that Vice President Harris first proposed in the Senate is the foundation for the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law guarantees that the program gives priority to communities that have a high wildfire hazard risk, low income, or have been affected by a serious disaster.
From the USDA:
Individual grants will fund up to $250,000 to create and update community wildfire protection plans or conduct outreach and education, and up to $10 million for associated infrastructure and resilience projects. Local and Tribal governments are encouraged to conduct planning exercises to assist their communities with wildfire preparedness, response and adaptation efforts. Projects must be completed within five years of the award obligation. The number of projects selected will be determined by available funding, which is $200 million annually.
The new program will also help communities in the wildland urban interface meet the three goals of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy to maintain resilient landscapes, create fire-adapted communities and improve wildfire response.
“Insight and guidance from the communities most at risk for catastrophic wildfires helps us mitigate those risks more effectively,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “We need a collaborative effort at all levels to ensure the success of this critical national effort.”