Tuolumne County Area Projects Receive Nearly $11 million in USDA Forest Service Community Wildfire Defense Grant Funding
Release Date: Mar 21, 2023
Contact(s): Benjamin Cossel
Joint News Release
Stanislaus National Forest - Benjamin Cossel, 209.288.6261, Benjamin.email@example.com
Tuolumne County Office of Emergency Services - Dore Bietz, 209.533.6395, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuolumne Utilities District - Emily Long, 209.532.5536 x518, email@example.com
Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California - LeeAnn Hatton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuolumne County Area Projects Receive Nearly $11 million in USDA Forest Service
Community Wildfire Defense Grant Funding
SONORA, California (March 21, 2023) – Three projects in Tuolumne County will receive nearly $11 million in grant funding as part of the USDA Forest Service’s Community Wildfire Defense Grant. Across California, more than $96 million will fund 33 projects with first-round grants.
The three projects include $315,599 for the Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California to conduct fuels reduction within their Tribal and adjacent lands; $249,927 allowing the Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) to create a wildfire protection plan that will prioritize management actions for the raw water ditch and potable water systems; and $10 million for Tuolumne County’s work providing defensible space to approximately 1,290 homes, roadside vegetation management on 23-miles of road and outreach to create additional Firewise Communities.
Proposals underwent a competitive selection process that included review panels made up of Tribal representatives and state forestry agencies. Guidelines within the law prioritized at-risk communities that have been impacted by a severe disaster, are at a high or very high potential for wildfire hazard and classified as low income.
“We recognize that to achieve a high level of resilience across our shared landscape, we need to work across all ownership boundaries. With this substantial grant funding, we can build upon an already existing body of great cross-boundary work,” said Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Jason Kuiken.
“This type of collaborative grant demonstrates a whole community approach to wildfire mitigation. Funding will allow our community to take significant steps towards wildfire risk reduction and preparedness to protect its precious water system,” said TUD General Manager Don Perkins.
This initial round of investments will assist communities in developing Community Wildfire Protection Plans — key roadmaps for addressing wildfire risks locally — as well as fund immediate actions to lower the risk of wildfire on non-federal land for communities where a Community Wildfire Protection Plan is already in place.
The Forest Service will announce another round of funding later in 2023, and additional communities can apply. The number of selected proposals in future rounds will depend on available funding. More information about funded proposals and announcements are available: https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire/grants.
Along with establishing the CWDG program, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides an historic $3.5 billion investment in wildfire management through a suite of programs aimed at reducing wildfire risks, detecting wildfires, instituting firefighter workforce reforms, and increasing pay for federal wildland firefighters. This announcement also comes on the heels of the president’s fiscal year 2024 budget, which proposes a permanent pay solution for wildland firefighters, increased capacity for mental and physical health services, and funds for housing repair, renovation, and construction.