Friday, March 17, 2023
By: KTVZ News Sources
Oregon visit comes as Dept. of Interior announces nearly $50 million for wildfire mitigation, resilience
WASHINGTON (KTVZ) — As U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland began a three-day visit to Oregon, including a Friday outdoor recreation roundtable in Bend, the Department of the Interior announced nearly $50 million in new allocations from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support wildland fire management in fiscal year 2023.
Here’s the full announcement made Friday by the department.
The funding will advance collaborative wildfire risk management efforts with private landowners, Tribes, states and local governments, help communities acquire slip-on tank units to operate vehicles as fire engines, support special pay supplements for federal wildland firefighters and expand remote sensing for wildfire detection. These investments build on the $228 million in fiscal year 2023 funding allocated in December. The Department allocated $180 million in fiscal year 2022.
Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Department is investing $1.5 billion over five years to better support the federal wildland firefighting workforce and increase the resilience of communities and lands facing the threat of wildfires. This funding supports the Department’s Five-year Monitoring, Maintenance, and Treatment Plan, which lays out a roadmap to address wildfire risk and prepare communities and ecosystems for the threat of wildfire.
“Wildland firefighters put their lives on the line every day to keep communities safe. The Biden-Harris administration will continue to do everything we can to support them, on and off the job,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “As wildfire seasons become longer, more intense and more dangerous, investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are helping provide for a more strategic approach to wildland fire management and mitigation, greater support of wildland firefighters, and much-needed equipment and preparedness methods.”
The Department is dedicating $24 million for a pilot program to support risk reduction work on private lands adjacent to federal lands through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Coastal Program.
This funding will support 24 fuels reduction projects in 13 states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The projects will reduce unwanted vegetation on approximately 94,000 acres as well as 144 linear miles along critical energy infrastructure, while also supporting fish and wildlife habitat improvements and the protection of endangered species.
Projects are voluntary and customized to meet landowners’ needs. Participating landowners continue to own and manage their land while they reduce wildfire risk and improve conditions for wildlife.
Funding from Friday’s announcement will also be allocated to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for Reserved Treaty Rights Land projects. Under the Reserved Treaty Rights program, Tribes participate in collaborative projects with other landowners (federal, state, private and others) to enhance the health and resiliency of priority Tribal natural resources at high risk to wildland fire.
The Department is also allocating another $9 million for the special pay supplements for federal wildland firefighters authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also created the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission, charged with making recommendations to improve federal policies related to the mitigation, suppression, and management of wildland fires in the United States. The Commission released its first report in February, which examined aerial firefighting equipment needs and outlined a strategy to set aviation management on a new trajectory for the next decade and beyond.