Federal government announces $930M investment in high-risk areas impacted by wildfires

The federal government on Wednesday announced a $930 million investment directed at 11 at-risk areas across the western United States to help areas hard-hit by wildfires. Areas at risk include California, Arizona, Oregon, and parts of eight other states. These states have been devastated by massive wildfires in recent years, threatening landscapes and communities.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the investment is part of the federal government. 10-Year Wildfire Crisis Strategy, was announced in January last year. At the time of its initial announcement, 10 areas were identified as “at risk” for wildfire damage and received similar funding.

“We didn’t get into this situation overnight. We can’t get out of it overnight,” he said. “We must remain vigilant and continue to invest in this strategy.”

The effort will be funded by a federal law passed last year called the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Inflation Reduction Act. Vilsak said the funding will go to the front end of addressing wildfire risk, including efforts such as fuel reduction and the development of technology to help make forest treatment plans more efficient. .

Among the projects selected to receive these funds is Plumas Community Protection. Plumas National Forest manager Chris Carlton said the area is particularly vulnerable because of wildfires in the past few years, like the massive Dixie fire in 2021. Wildfires also affect local communities.

Firefighters in Plumas National Forest burn stakes as part of a fuel reduction effort near the Brush Creek Work Center. The area was severely burned during the North Complex fire, which affected the local community.US Forest Service

“Two of the large wildfires in the last three years have caused civilian deaths,” Carlton said. “The risks are very real. We are seeing them and we need to respond in new, more proactive ways.”

Carlton said that since the Dixie Fire, efforts to mitigate wildfires have focused on three priorities. The first is to protect people living in areas not affected by wildfires. The second is restoration focused on both the landscape and the community he area.

“Restoration may be a little deeper than what we traditionally tend to think of, like clearing or replanting,” he said. “It’s really about protecting the community.”

Finally, our third priority is to foster community support.

Future work by the U.S. Forest Service will include reducing risks in the area, including removing dangerous street trees and working with community partners to identify other potential risks, Carlton said. will be

But like many other areas that receive funding, Carlton said this is just the beginning. The costs of mitigating wildfire damage and preventing future devastation are high. He added that he also struggled with getting enough people to do the work.

“The reality is that processing tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of acres over a reasonable period of time is a very expensive proposition,” he said. “Ultimately, the goal is to be able to take them somewhere. [the funding] The prescribed fires and other tools and cooperation with partners used to keep them up are quite taxing in many areas. ”

The US government’s wildfire crisis strategy aims to treat 50 million acres in high-risk landscapes within 10 years.

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