Historic funding continues to support firefighters and communities across the country
Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2022
DENVER — During a visit to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge today, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau announced $228 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support wildland fire management in fiscal year 2023. This funding is the first of several allocations to be made this year and will support continuing pay increases for federal firefighters, new training opportunities, fuels management work to reduce fire risk, burned area rehabilitation to help speed recovery after fires, and increased funding for science that will examine the impacts of climate change on fire management.
“In Colorado and across the West, communities are feeling the effects of the climate crisis in the form of worsening drought and severe wildland fires. With funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Interior Department is bringing much-needed support to increase the resilience of lands facing the threat of wildland fires and better support federal wildland firefighters,” said Deputy Secretary Beaudreau. “These resources are vital to prevent future fires, rehabilitate burned areas and properly equip our brave firefighters on the frontlines.”
Deputy Secretary Beaudreau, Governor Jared Polis, and state and federal officials were in Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge today to tour sites set to receive funding to reduce the risk of wildfire. The projects showcase work with partners in the wildland urban interface where communities and infrastructure mingle with fire-prone uninhabited spaces.
Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Department is investing $1.5 billion over five years to improve firefighter pay 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 $228 million announced today follows $180 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law support to wildland fire management programs in fiscal year 2022, for a total of $408 million in funding. With support from these new investments and in coordination with partners, the Department has laid the groundwork to expand wildland firefighter training, develop a geospatial wildfire risk mitigation planning tool, and increase local firefighting capacity.
The Law also established the Wildfire Mitigation and Management Commission, which began meeting this year. The Departments of the Interior and Agriculture have also begun work to better support the unique mental health needs of wildland firefighters by establishing a health and wellbeing program directed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.