Photo 30728518 © Nemar74 |

U.S. Department Of The Interior Announces $79 Million To Support Wildland Fire Management

April 12, 2024
The department is investing $1.5 billion over five years to support its wildland firefighting workforce and increase the resilience of communities and lands experiencing wildfires.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced $79 million from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to support wildland fire management by expanding wildfire detection capabilities, reducing risk from wildfires, helping rehabilitate burned areas and enhancing radios and other technology used by wildfire incident management teams. 

“With wildfires increasing in frequency and intensity, the Interior Department is improving its preparedness to address wildfires when they occur and restore fire-adapted ecosystems across the nation after they are impacted,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are expanding our capacity and resources to reduce risk from wildfires, detect wildfires early, and help affected areas recover.” 

The Department is investing $1.5 billion over five years to support its wildland firefighting workforce and increase the resilience of communities and lands experiencing wildfires through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

About $57.2 million from the grant will help restore landscapes damaged by recent wildfires, including $44 million to develop locally adapted seeds and plant materials to revegetate areas majorly impacted by wildfires and are unlikely to recover naturally. The revegetation efforts initiate a path towards healthy ecosystems and builds on the Department’s National Native Seed Strategy Keystone Initiative, focused on securing enough native seeds and plants to restore lands and waters. 

Moreover, another $11 million will help minimize the risk of extreme wildfires by accelerating the pace and scale of the Department’s fuels management activities, which reduce excessive vegetation leading to wildfires. These projects will include mechanical vegetation removal, chemical treatments of invasive species, and the use of prescribed fire.

The announcement also includes $10.5 million to improve the Interior Department’s preparedness to detect and respond to future wildfires, including $10 million to enhance radio communication during wildfire operations. The amount will also fund more personnel to improve the use of data from remote sensors, such as cameras, smoke monitors, and remote automated weather stations for better wildfire planning and response. 

The wildland fire investments build on more than $780 million allocated by Interior under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, effective FY 2022. The investments, along with accompanying funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are supporting the nation’s wildland fire workforce, accelerating the pace and scale of fuels management and burned area rehabilitation, and advancing wildland fire science. 

The investments will promote more accurate wildfire risk assessments and mitigation, faster wildfire identification and strategic responses, as well as safer and effective responses. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also created the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission for making recommendations to improve federal policies related to the mitigation, suppression and management of wildland fires in the U.S. 

In September, the Commission released a comprehensive report outlining 148 recommendations to improve the nation’s relationship with wildfire. The recent funding develops some of these recommendations, including expanded use of wildfire detection systems, development of seed capacity, and improved collaboration across organizations and jurisdictions.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of T&D World, create an account today!