Historic funding continues to support firefighters and communities across the country
Date: Wednesday, July 12, 2023
MISSOULA, Mont. — During a visit to Montana today, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau announced a $185 million investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support wildland fire management nationwide in fiscal year 2023 and to assist land managers in planning for wildfire management activities in fiscal year 2024. The funding will support special pay supplements and training opportunities for federal wildland firefighters and will advance collaborative fuels management and burned area rehabilitation activities. The investments build on $278 million already allocated in fiscal year 2023 funding for wildland fire management, announced in December 2022 and March 2023. As part of the President’s Investing in America agenda, the Biden-Harris administration is delivering historic funding to communities across America to prepare for and respond to wildfires.
“As climate change brings longer fire seasons and more extreme fire behavior in Montana and across the West, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to wildland fire preparedness and response,” said Deputy Secretary Beaudreau. “Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are strengthening our wildfire response efforts, providing increased certainty to allow land managers to better prepare for future needs, and ensuring our wildland firefighting workforce is given the respect, compensation and training support they deserve.”
Deputy Secretary Beaudreau made the announcement within the Blackfoot-Clark Fork Restoration Landscape in Western Montana. The area, where the Bureau of Land Management, nonprofit organizations and Tribes collaborate on fire management efforts, is being supported by Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act funding, and is an example of the collaborative projects at the center of the President’s Investing in America Agenda. Montana is receiving an overall $8.4 million in funding for wildland fire management in fiscal year 2023.
The Department is investing $1.5 billion over five years from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to better support the federal wildland firefighting workforce and increase the resilience of communities and lands facing the threat of wildfires. This funding supports the Department’s Five-year Monitoring, Maintenance, and Treatment Plan, which lays out a roadmap to address wildfire risk and prepare communities and ecosystems for the threat of wildfire.
The Department is dedicating $12.5 million from today’s announcement towards 63 projects in eight states to reduce hazardous fuels on nearly 40,000 acres of BLM-managed lands. These projects in California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming will help improve community protection and landscape resilience, with a focus on wildfire resilience in the wildland-urban interface and core sagebrush areas. In keeping with cross-boundary collaboration goals, the projects will be conducted in partnership with Tribes, state and county governments, landowners, local volunteer fire departments, permittees and other federal agencies.
Another $64 million from today’s announcement is being allocated to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service for additional fuels management projects to begin in fiscal year 2024. Investments will also support a new agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to make use of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) Program to rapidly detect and report wildfire starts.
The Department is also allocating another $11.4 million for the special pay supplements for federal wildland firefighters authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The President’s 2024 budget request includes a $72 million increase to raise the base pay of federal and Tribal wildland firefighters. The Administration is working with congressional leaders to establish a permanent pay increase.
By making smart investments in critical infrastructure and wildland fire response, the Interior Department is helping lead the Biden-Harris administration’s response to the increasingly complex fire environment. Paramount to this issue is promoting climate resiliency across landscapes and communities, modernizing the firefighter workforce while creating good jobs, and protecting the safety and long-term wellbeing of our wildland firefighters and incident responders. For more information on the steps being taken as part of the President’s Investing in America agenda, go to the Department’s wildland fire priority webpage.
Visit the Department’s new interactive map to track funding invested so far from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in thousands of projects nationwide.