The Department of the Interior announced on Monday, September 19, that it has invested more than $6.8 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the fiscal year 2022 to advance work on wildfire resilience and support fuels management projects in Oregon on 49,039 acres of land throughout the state.
This is a portion of the $103 million that the Department earlier this year earmarked to lower the risk of wildfires, lessen their effects, and restore burned regions. This fiscal year, approximately 2 million acres nationally will have their fuels treated thanks to the new financing, a significant increase over the previous one.
“We are witnessing wildfire seasons turn into wildfire years, affecting communities, businesses, animals, and the environment,” said Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau. “Climate change is driving harsher heat waves, more variable weather, and record drought conditions.”
“Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are boosting resources for the valiant firefighting crew, investing in communities in Oregon, promoting wildfire resilience efforts nationwide, and lowering the danger of wildfire.
The announcement coincides with Deputy Secretary Beaudreau’s visit to the Western United States this week to demonstrate how funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act is improving wildfire and drought resilience. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act is giving towns all throughout the country the support they need to make their communities more resilient to wildfires and to better support federal wildland firefighters.
The statute includes $1.5 billion for the Department to spend on planning, fuels management, post-fire restoration, and fire science over the following five years. A new occupational series categorization that is better tailored to firefighters is also mandated, along with significant adjustments for federal wildland firefighters, including temporary pay increases.
Investments made under the bipartisan Infrastructure Act in wildland fire control in Oregon will improve fuel treatment in regions with high wildfire danger potential, assisting in the protection of homes, businesses, and public drinking water. Tribal members, young people, and veterans will be employed in these initiatives, which will improve climate resiliency across landscapes and communities.
The National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service are working together to build a tool for mapping and mitigating wildfire risk, and a portion of the funding for this year’s wildfire resilience provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be used for this purpose.
The technology will let property managers identify possible wildfire threats as a group and share planned and completed mitigation efforts. The Joint Fire Science Program, an interagency collaboration with the USDA Forest Service that sponsors research initiatives related to wildfire science, is also given further assistance under the bill.
In conjunction with federal, non-federal, and tribal partners, the Department’s recently announced Five-year Monitoring, Maintenance, and Treatment Plan for reducing wildfire risk outlined a strategy for attaining these goals.
These plans describe the monitoring, maintenance, and treatment strategy the agencies will employ to address wildfire risk, better serve communities, and improve conditions on all types of lands where wildfires can occur. They work in conjunction with the USDA Forest Service’s 10-Year Wildfire Crisis Strategy.
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