Grant Funding Available for Projects Addressing Forest Health, Wildfire Risk

The smoke from summer wildfires has served as a reminder to Coloradans that many forests remain unhealthy and fire-prone, and that the occurrence of wildfire in natural settings is inevitable. For those interested in taking action but who have lacked the means, funding is now available to help address these concerns.

The Colorado State Forest Service announced this week that it is accepting proposals from Colorado HOAs, community groups, local governments, utilities and nonprofit organizations seeking funding to restore forested areas, improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk on non-federal land in the state.

The Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program helps fund projects that strategically reduce the potential wildfire risk to property, infrastructure and water supplies and that promote forest health through scientifically based forestry practices. The competitive grant program is designed to assist with reducing wildfire risk to people and property in the wildland-urban interface, promote forest health and support long-term ecological restoration. Applications must promote forest health and address the reduction of hazardous fuels that could fuel a wildfire – such as trees and brush near homes – and also utilize wood products derived from forest management efforts.

Applications must be submitted electronically to local CSFS district offices by 5pm MST on November 27, 2017. A technical advisory panel convened by the CSFS will review project applications and notify successful applicants next spring.

Up to 25 percent of this program’s total available grant funds also are allowable to fund the purchase of equipment that directly supports and expands on-the-ground opportunities to reduce hazardous fuels.

The state can fund up to half the cost of each awarded project; grant recipients are required to match at least 50 percent of the total project cost through cash or in-kind contributions. Projects can be located on private, state, county or municipal forest lands.

Applicants must coordinate proposed projects with relevant county officials to ensure consistency with county-level wildfire risk reduction planning. Follow-up monitoring also is a necessary component of this grant program, to help demonstrate the relative efficacy of various treatments and the utility of grant resources. The CSFS will work with successful project applicants to conduct project monitoring and conduct site visits to assess effectiveness and completion of projects.

Additional emphasis will be given to projects that: are identified through a community-based collaborative process such as a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP); are implemented strategically across land ownership boundaries; are conducted within a priority area identified in the Colorado State Forest Action Plan; utilize the labor of an accredited Colorado Youth or Veterans Corps organization; and include forest treatments that result in the protection of water supplies.

Applications and additional information about the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program are available at CSFS districts and online at http://csfs.colostate.edu/funding-assistance.

Ryan Lockwood

Ryan Lockwood is Media Communications Program Manager for the Colorado State Forest Service.