Arizona county allocated over $340K in federal funding for wildfire defense programs

Mar 21, 2023, 10:00 AM

(Twitter Photo/@USDA)...

(Twitter Photo/@USDA)

(Twitter Photo/@USDA)

PHOENIX — The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday announced nearly $200 million in funding for wildfire protection project proposals in 22 states, including Arizona, and seven tribes.

The Biden administration allocated $341,217 for Gila County’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan over a 24-month period and for guidance from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Priorities for the Arizona plan are community outreach and education, evacuation strategy and fuels mitigation, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

“In Arizona, Gila County, they will receive $341,000 for evacuation planning, community education and clearing flammable brush from around buildings,” Vice President Kamala Harris said on a media call.

The Community Wildfire Defense Grant program, announced in June, is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The program conducted a grant proposal selection process with reviews by state forestry agencies and tribal representatives.

The administration factored communities impacted by severe disaster, high wildfire hazard potential and communities classified as low income in its decision.

“Projects were selected using a collaborative, inclusive process that engaged tribes and state forestry agencies,” Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said in a press release.

“All projects include at least two of the primary selection criteria mandated in the legislation. And in all cases, these projects are taking critical steps to protect homes, property, businesses and people’s lives from catastrophic wildfires.”

Last week, the Department of the Interior announced nearly $50 million in allocations from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for wildland fire management.

The funding will support 24 projects in 13 states, including Arizona, by reducing unwanted vegetation and supporting fish and wildlife habitat improvements.

Arizona saw 1,432 wildland fires that burned 124,165 acres in 2022 and 1,773 fires that burned 524,428 acres in 2021, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center.

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Arizona county allocated over $340K in federal funding for wildfire defense programs