USDA Announces Additional Funds to Reduce Wildfire Risk
Last week, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced his agency is expanding efforts to reduce the risk of wildfires in the western U.S. Funds will be invested to directly protect at-risk communities and critical infrastructure in 11 additional landscapes in Washington Oregon, Idaho California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.
“Around 200 communities in the western U.S. will see a mitigated fire risk as a result,” Vilsack said.
The new areas announced Thursday include:
- Idaho’s Nez Perce-Clearwater-Lower Salmon
- Washington’s Colville National Forest
- Oregon’s Mount Hood Forest Health and Fire-Resilient Communities
- Oregon and California’s Klamath River Basin
- Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest
“These resources are going to allow us to reduce hazardous fuels strategically and thoughtfully in areas where we have community and partner support, including tribes," Vilsack continued. "We'll place this fuel reduction treatments around and near critical communities we look forward to protecting important infrastructure power lines dams municipal watersheds and military infrastructure as well and we're going to continue to look for ways in which we can prioritize the protection of large mature and old growth trees.”
The Forest Service announced its original ten landscape project areas last year. Combined with the additional announcement last week, that represents a total USDA investment of $930 million across 45 million acres. The work spans 134 of the 250 highest-risk fire sheds identified in the Wildfire Crisis Strategy and will mitigate the wildfire risk for around 200 communities in the western United States.
“It is no longer a matter of if a wildfire will threaten many western communities in these landscapes, it is a matter of when,” Vilsack added. “The need to invest more and to move quickly is apparent. This is a crisis and President Biden is treating it as one. Today’s announcement will bring more than $490 million to 11 key landscapes across the western United States, and will be used to restore our national forests, including the restoration of resilient old-growth forest conditions.”
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