Federal Government to Fund $25M in Wildfire Defense Grants in Washington
March 20, 2023
Funding will be distributed by DNR to 14 successful applicants on both sides of the Cascades
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced today $197 million in funding for the federal Community Wildfire Defense Grant (CWDG) program -- more than $25 million of which will come to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for 14 Washington state projects.
Washington’s single largest award under the program is more than $10 million for the Kittitas County Resilient Landscapes project, which plans to do wildfire fuel reduction projects on 3,400 acres near Cle Elum over the next four years.
“This funding is a game-changer for wildfire mitigation and forest restoration for some of our state’s most at-risk landscapes and communities,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who leads the Department of Natural Resources. “I’m excited to expand our all lands, all hands approach to increase the pace and scale of our work and benefit Washington’s forestland and its residents.”
Projects funded through the program follow recommendations and contribute to goals of DNR’s 20-Year Forest Health Strategic Plan, which has a goal of restoring 1.25 million acres of forest to healthy conditions, and the Central Washington Initiative, a collaboration between DNR and the U.S. Forest Service to complete 350,000 acres of landscape restoration on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
Community Wildfire Defense Grants are federally funded and intended to help at-risk communities and tribes plan for and mitigate wildfire risk. This round of funding for the federal CWDG grant program attracted 417 applications from 36 states and one territory, and 45 applications from tribes and Alaska Native Corporations totaling $525 million. Projects from 21 states and seven tribes were awarded funding.
“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this initial round of investments from the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program is yet another way that the Biden-Harris Administration is taking crucial steps to make communities safer and protect critical infrastructure and natural resources from the threat of destructive wildfires,” said Secretary Vilsack, in a news release. “These grants will help to ensure that local communities, especially low-income and tribal communities, have the tools they need to keep communities safe, and that we are working together in the right places and at the right scale to confront this crisis.”
The funding awarded for these 14 Washington state projects will pass through the DNR’s Community Resilience program to grant recipients. All 14 projects were funded at the full amount requested.
With $25,059,199 awarded to 14 projects, Washington ranked second in both categories, behind California, which received $112.8 million for 33 projects. Oregon came in third for funding, with $23.5 million.
DNR’s Community Resilience team also manages the Wildfire Ready Neighbors program, launched in 2021. Since then, more than 4,000 Eastern Washington residents have signed up to get a personalized Wildfire Ready Plan and committed to take more than 20,000 actions to better prepare their homes and communities for wildfire.
This spring, Wildfire Ready Neighbors is expanding to three pilot counties in Western Washington with high wildfire risk – Pierce, Mason and Thurston counties. House Bill 1578, passed earlier this month by the Washington State House of Representatives, is now being considered in the Senate, and would fund further expansion of the program in Western Washington communities.
Grants have been awarded to:
- Kittitas County Resilient Landscapes – Cle Elum
- West Klickitat County Wildfire Defense Project – Klickitat County
- Yakama Nation Hazardous Fuels Reduction – Yakama Reservation
- City of Spokane Hazardous Fuels Reduction – Spokane
- City of Spokane Fire Department – Spokane
- Spokane County Fire District No. 4 Community Wildfire Protection Plan Implementation (CWPP) – Spokane
- Community Firewise Sky Meadows Ranch Hazardous Fuels Reduction – Cle Elum
- White Salmon Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project – White Salmon
- DNR Southeast Region – Cle Elum
- Stemilt-Squilchuck Forest Resilience Project – Wenatchee
- Clallam County CWPP Update – Port Angeles
- Pacific County CWPP Development – South Bend
- Lincoln County CWPP Update – Davenport
- Flowery Trail Community Association Hazardous Fuels Mitigation – Chewelah