Funding Available for Projects Addressing Forest Health, Wildfire Risk
The Colorado State Forest Service announced today it is accepting grant proposals for the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation (FRWRM) Grant Program from HOAs, community groups, local governments, fire protection districts, utilities and nonprofit organizations seeking funding to address forest issues and reduce wildfire risk and destruction to lives, property, and water. Due to the recent passage and signing of Senate Bill 54 by Governor Polis, the FRWRM Grant Program received $6 million from the General Fund. Throughout the legislative process, CAR strongly supported SB21-054, along with other wildfire-related legislation directed to lessen the risk and better prepare and respond to Colorado wildfires. This is not only a big win for Colorado REALTORS®️, but for our communities as we prepare for the upcoming wildfire season.
Colorado REALTORS®️, in partnership with the Colorado State Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Insurance Association, the National Fire Protection Association, and other like-minded fire prevention organizations help to educate, spread awareness and provide residents with direct access to resources in local communities through Colorado Project Wildfire. Click here to learn more.
Last year, historic wildfires were an unfortunate reminder to Coloradans that many forested areas here remain unhealthy and fire-prone. The occurrence of fire in natural settings is inevitable, including in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) where millions of Coloradans live.
In March, Governor Polis signed a bill (SB21-054) to transfer $6 million from the General Fund to the FRWRM grant program to address wildfire risk in Colorado. Approximately $6 million in total funding is available, and grant awards are available up to $1 million during this FRWRM grant cycle.
“This grant program is a critical source of funding to address wildfire risk and other forest health issues on a local level,” said Mike Lester, State Forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service. “I applaud Governor Polis and our state legislators for recognizing the urgency to make additional funds available now to community groups, fire districts and others to get this important work done on the ground. Last year’s historic wildfires in Colorado reminded us how much we need our forests – and what can happen if we don’t invest in improving forest health. More grant-funded projects will mean more communities and residents will be better protected from wildfires.”
Reduce Risk to Property, Infrastructure, Water Supplies
The FRWRM 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 reduce risk to people and property in the WUI and support long-term ecological restoration. Applications must not only promote forest health and address the reduction of hazardous fuels that could fuel a wildfire – such as trees and brush near homes – but also utilize wood products derived from forest management efforts.
The state can fund up to 50 or 75 percent of the cost of each awarded project; grant recipients are required to match at least 50 or 25 percent of the total project cost through cash or in-kind contributions depending on whether the project location falls within an area of “fewer economic resources.” Projects can be located on private, state, county or municipal forestlands. Program funds also are allowable to fund the purchase of equipment that directly supports and expands opportunities to reduce hazardous fuels. Program funds may be used for forest restoration but are not part of post-fire rehabilitation activities.
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 2020 Colorado 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 must be submitted electronically to local CSFS Field Offices by 5 p.m. MST on May 19, 2021. A technical advisory panel convened by the CSFS will review project applications and make funding recommendations. The CSFS will then notify successful applicants this summer.
Applications and additional information about the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program are available at CSFS Field Offices and online at csfs.colostate.edu/funding-assistance.
The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) provides professional forestry assistance, wildfire mitigation expertise, and outreach and education to help landowners and communities achieve their forest management goals. The CSFS is a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University and provides staffing for the Division of Forestry within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. For more information, visit csfs.colostate.edu.