Acting Secretary of Interior Announces $138 Million for Wildland Fire Mitigation and Resilience

During a visit to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, Acting Deputy Secretary of the Interior Laura Daniel-Davis announced $138 million in new allocations from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to help protect communities from the risk of wildfires in fiscal year 2024. The funding will support the modernization of wildland firefighter training, help reduce the risk of extreme wildfires, rehabilitate burned areas, and advance fire science.

“As climate change drives increasingly extreme wildfires across the nation, the Interior Department is expanding the nation’s preparedness to address wildfire activity while building climate resilience across landscapes and communities,” said Acting Deputy Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis. “Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are accelerating the pace and scale of efforts to reduce the risk of extreme wildfires and help affected areas recover, investing in improved science and technology to enable a more strategic approach, and ensuring our wildland fire workforce receives the support it deserves.”

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Department is investing $1.5 billion over five years to better support its wildland firefighting workforce and increase the resilience of communities and lands facing the threat of wildfires. With today’s announcement, more than half of that amount has now been allocated.

The Department is dedicating $12.4 million from today’s announcement to modernize wildland fire training and position qualifications. Through the Incident Performance and Training Modernization initiative, over 100 wildland fire positions will undergo a thorough review and analysis to better support trainees and evaluators and strengthen integrated performance-based training systems. The new performance-based training system will be developed with updated courses, more options for firefighters to gain practical experience, and reduced barriers to qualification. This effort will help establish seamless interoperability within the interagency wildland firefighting workforce.

Another $7.5 million will help restore landscapes damaged by recent wildfires beyond the point where they could naturally recover. In Southwest Idaho, for example, a lightning storm in September 2022 started a series of wildfires that negatively impacted elk and deer winter range habitat by reducing important shrub species such as bitterbrush and sagebrush and exacerbating the spread of noxious weeds. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will support re-seeding and planting of native vegetation, along with treating invasive species.

These investments build on an overall $647 million previously allocated under the law since it went into effect in fiscal year 2022. These critical investments support the Interior Department’s wildland fire workforce, accelerate the pace and scale of fuels management and burned area rehabilitation, and advance wildland fire science. Investments will continue to support work through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service. Representatives from each bureau were on hand during today’s announcement to underscore the funding’s impact on their operations.

During the visit, Acting Deputy Secretary Daniel-Davis also toured the Paradigm fuel breaks project east of Boise. Funded in part by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the BLM is working collaboratively with stakeholders and private landowners to enhance firefighter and public safety by reducing the amount of fires that ignite and burn near roadways, provide additional and improved points for fire suppression, and protect future habitat rehabilitation and restoration treatments.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also created the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission, charged with making recommendations to improve federal policies related to the mitigation, suppression and management of wildland fires in the United States. The Commission released its first report in February 2023, which examined aerial firefighting equipment needs and outlined a strategy to set aviation management on a new trajectory for the next decade and beyond. In September, the Commission released a comprehensive report outlining 148 recommendations to change the nation’s relationship with wildfire.


AerialFire Staff
AerialFire Staff
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