Forest Service launches new effort to address wildfires

A firefighter monitors a backfire, flames lit by fire crews to burn off vegetation, while...
A firefighter monitors a backfire, flames lit by fire crews to burn off vegetation, while battling the Mosquito Fire in the Volcanoville community of El Dorado County, Calif., on Sept. 9, 2022. Wildfires in the U.S. scorched some 65,000 square miles and about 85,000 houses and other structures nationwide over the past decade.((AP Photo/Noah Berger, File))
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 2:18 PM PST
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VALLEJO, California (KOLO) - Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced expanded efforts to curtail wildfires 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,” said Secretary Vilsack. “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.”

These areas in California, and one in Nevada, will get additional funding to help the outbreak of fires:

  • Southern California Fireshed Risk Reduction Strategy (California – 4M acres)
  • Trinity Forest Health and Fire Resilient Rural Communities (California – 910K acres)
  • Plumas Community Protection (California – 285K acres)
  • Sierra and Elko Fronts (Nevada, California – 3.4M acres)

This announcement compliments 10 other projects announced by the agency in 2022. In total, the USDA hopes to provide additional protection for 45 million acres.

The total investment will be $930 million in 2023.

“Restoring natural forest health and diversity with thoughtful, science-based fuels treatments is critical for the future of California communities and natural resources,” said Kara Chadwick, Deputy Regional Forester with the Pacific Southwest Region. “With our partners, we are dramatically increasing the scope and pace of fuels reduction projects in landscapes across the state.”

The Forest Service will also be authorizing a new emergency authority in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help move more quickly in applying targeted treatments to high-risk firesheds.