By the Los Padres Forest
Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack [Thursday] announced expanded efforts to reduce wildfire risk across the western U.S., directly benefiting national forests in California including Los Padres.
These investments were made possible through the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and will directly benefit at-risk communities and critical infrastructure in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
“It is no longer a matter of if a wildfire will threaten many western communities in these landscapes, it is a matter of when,” said Secretary Vilsack. “The need to invest more and to move quickly is apparent. This is a crisis and President Biden is treating it as one. Today’s announcement will bring more than $490 million to 11 key landscapes across the western United States and will be used to restore our national forests.”
This announcement complements the Agency’s 10 landscape projects announced in 2022 and the Agency’s broader strategy to address critical infrastructure, community protection, and forest resilience at risk to catastrophic wildfire. Combined with the initial investment landscapes, these actions will span nearly 45 million acres across 137 of the 250 high-risk firesheds in the western U.S., with a total investment of $930 million on 21 landscapes across 26.7 million acres in 2023. This work will mitigate risk to approximately 200 communities within these landscapes.
“We are thrilled with this additional support to tackle the dangerous accumulation of hazardous fuels, especially as the warming climate compounds conditions for a catastrophic wildfire that would threaten communities and public infrastructure in the growing wildland-urban interface,” said Los Padres Forest Supervisor Chris Stubbs.
Secretary Vilsack is also authorizing the Forest Service to utilize a new emergency authority in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, combined with strategic implementation of existing authorities. Doing so will enable the Agency to move more quickly in applying targeted treatments to high-risk firesheds identified in the Agency’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy, as well as post-fire recovery areas most impacted the past several years.
These actions are required to be conducted in an ecologically appropriate manner that maximizes the retention of large trees, considers historically underserved communities and tribes, and is done collaboratively with local communities, tribes and partners.