Wildfire — The Administration & More Wildfire Funds

The Biden administration is going to add another $500 million to its efforts to battle and prevent wildfire in the wildland urban interface. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said $400 million will come from funds available through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The money will target 21 areas identified as high risk.

The other $100 million will go to the U.S. Forest Service’s Collaborative Wildfire Risk Reduction Program. It takes care of risk mitigation in areas outside of the 21 areas targeted by the $400 million.

“This is allowing us to begin to expand beyond … the 21 priority areas into areas which we refer to as the wildland urban interface,” Vilsack said. “This is going to allow us with $100 million to help build local capacity to provide tools and resources so that we can provide those communities with assistance and help to reduce the risk of fire as it relates to their community.”

The extra $500 million brings the wildfire resilience funding from the IRA and the BIL to $2.4 billion.

Vilsack didn’t miss an opportunity to note that all of this — of course — depends on Congress passing a bill to fund the federal government.

“Without a budget, and without an allocation and appropriation to continue to pay firefighters what has been provided to them under the pay increase as well as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we risk losing key staff,” Vilsack said. “We’re encouraging Congress to work on the budget, so that we can continue to do good work.”

He also noted this funding is critical to his department, and the administration’s, efforts to battle climate change. Vilsack said climate change has led to dryer conditions that have contributed in very eventful ways wildfires caused by nature and by humans.

Last year there were over 53,000 wildfires that burned close to 2.61 million acres. That statistic comes via the National Interagency Fire Center.

Source link: The Hill — https://bit.ly/3UYe4x4

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