Community Agriculture Alliance: Applications sought for forest restoration, wildfire risk mitigation grants

Carolina Manriquez
Community Agriculture Alliance

The Colorado State Forest Service is requesting applications for the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program.

The CSFS estimates that approximately $7.5 million will be available for the 2023-24 grant cycle. This competitive grant program is designed to assist with funding community-level actions to reduce the risk to people, property and infrastructure from wildfire in the wildland urban interface, or WUI; promote forest health and the utilization of woody material for traditional forest products and biomass energy; and encourage forest restoration projects.

There are two types of qualifying projects for funding:

  1. Fuels and Forest Health Projects — must strategically reduce the potential risk for damage to property, infrastructure, water supplies and other high-valued assets as a result of wildfire or limit the probability of wildfires spreading into populated areas. Projects must promote forest health through scientifically based forestry practices that restore ecosystem functions, structures and species composition.
  2. Capacity Building Projects — must increase community capacity by providing the community with the resources and staffing necessary to plan and implement forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation projects.

The following individuals, organizations or entities may apply:

  • Local community groups such as homeowner, neighborhood or property associations that are located within or are in close proximity to the WUI
  • Local government entities including counties, municipalities, fire protection districts and other special districts in or within close proximity to the WUI
  • Public or private utilities, including water providers, with infrastructure or land ownership in areas with high risk of catastrophic wildfires
  • Nonprofit groups that promote hazardous forest fuel reduction treatment projects or are engaged in firefighting or fire management activities.

Applicants must demonstrate an ability to match 50% of the total project cost. Matching contributions can be either cash, in kind, or a combination of both, and may be in the form of private, local government, state or federal support for the project.

If you think you have a qualifying project, reach out to the CSFS Steamboat Springs field office to discuss. Competitive applications will create effectiveness by building synergies and economies of scale.

Strategic proposals will include aspects such as implementation across land-ownership boundaries, projects conducted within higher-priority areas identified in the 2020 Colorado State Forest Action Plan, projects that are part of a larger landscape-scale treatment effort and projects that include, or are in geographic proximity to, public lands that have been recently treated or are planned for treatment projects.

Many successful applications have come from Routt County in the recent past, including capacity funding for the Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council, equipment for local fire districts and fuel and forest health treatments for local HOAs.

View or call 970-879-0475 for more information. Applications are due to the CSFS Steamboat Springs field office by Oct. 18. Awards will be announced by April 1, 2024.

Carolina Manriquez is a forester for the Colorado State Forest Service.

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