Yesterday, in Durango, USDA Secretary Vilsack announced over $63 Million to reduce hazardous fuels and expand wildfire barriers, known as fuel breaks
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet welcomed nearly $38 million in funding from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to expand wildfire barriers, known as fuel breaks, that protect communities and firefighters in Colorado. The funding, made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, is part of $63 million that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday to mitigate wildfire risks and help land managers develop landscape-scale wildfire responses before fires start. This funding will also help support jobs in the forestry industry on the Western Slope of Colorado.
Colorado will receive over $20.8 million for the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest, over $13.1 million for the San Juan National Forest, and over $3.4 million for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland to fund projects in Colorado and Wyoming.
“Our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to deliver for Colorado. Wildfires are wreaking havoc year-round, and investing in fuel breaks now will slow future wildfires and create safer conditions for our firefighters,” said Hickenlooper.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided a significant down payment to reduce wildfire risks by more responsibly managing our country’s forests – and I’m grateful for this funding from the Forest Service that will help communities across Colorado, including those on the Western Slope, meet our urgent need,” said Bennet. “I’ll continue to fight for sustained, long-term investments in the health of our forests and watersheds to help prevent megafires that damage our watersheds and imperil communities on the frontlines.”
“For nearly a decade, scientists at the USDA Forest Service and risk management experts have tested and refined building these defensible spaces before a wildfire starts,” said Vilsack. “With climate change fueling the wildfire crisis, we are investing in this work through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda on an even larger scale as one of the many actions we are taking to protect the people and communities we serve.”
“These investments will accelerate our fuels reduction efforts through an ‘all hands all lands’ approach that is aimed at enhancing resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities, and safe and effective wildfire response,” said Frank Beum, USFS regional forester for the Rocky Mountain Region. “These fuel breaks are critical to improve the safety of communities, firefighters, and infrastructure.”