Colorado ready to grant $5.2 million for wildfire risk reduction projects on non-federal lands

Heavy machinery is on the move in the quest to restore Summit County's forests.

Heavy machinery is on the move in the quest to restore Colorado’s forests.

Applications due March 13

Staff Report

FRISCO — Neighborhoods looking to reduce wildfire threats can now apply for grants under a state program that will disburse a total of $5.2 million for projects that reduce the risk for damage to property, infrastructure, and water supplies, and those that limit the likelihood of wildfires spreading into populated areas.

The grant program, administered by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, is accepting applications through March 13. The grants will be awarded in early May. Information and applications are online at the DNR website.

The grant program was created by Senate Bill 13-269 and passed last year by the Colorado General Assembly. The first round of grants, totaling just over $4 million, was awarded to 25 recipients in 16 counties in August, with funding directed to non-federal lands within Colorado.

Eligible applicants include community groups, local governments, utilities, state agencies and non-profit groups. Applicants must contribute 100 percent matching funds, which can include in-kind resources, for a 50-50 grant-to-match ratio.

Applicants must also identify plans to make use of the woody material resulting from the projects. Those plans can include using the materials for biomass energy and/or traditional forest products.

Examples of projects considered for funding include:

  • Creation of defensible space around homes and structures, based on Colorado
    State Forest Service (CSFS) guidelines.
  • Construction of fuel breaks, based on CSFS guidelines.
  • Fuels reduction beyond defensible space, designed to protect water supplies and/or reduce fire intensity.

Up to 25 percent of total grant funds are available to pay for the purchase of equipment that will increase current and future capacity for hazardous fuels reduction. Applicants interested in using funds for these purposes can use a specific application form for capacity building.

All applicants must coordinate proposed projects with appropriate county officials to ensure consistency with county-level wildfire risk reduction planning.

Earlier grant recipients have been working with Colorado Forest Restoration Institute to measure conditions before they begin treatment; this is part of a significant monitoring effort that will help forestry officials understand the impact of grant funds when the projects have been completed.

Awardees have also been working with the Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program (CoWood) to maximize opportunities for woody material that is removed from sites. Additionally, awardees have been working with Colorado Youth Corps to identify opportunities for youth to get involved as a labor force on the ground.

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