Fifty-five projects designed to help reduce wildfire hazards and reclaim burned lands are sharing $15 million of the Dept. of Interior's Stimulus money. The funding, which will be distributed among 12 states, was announced May 21, 2009. With the wildfire season heating up, this funding could be of substantial interest in the affected communities in AK, AZ, CA, ID, MN, MT, NM, OK, OR, UT, WA and WI.
On a related note, a team of western US researchers has found that only 11% of federal money spent from 2004-2008 to help reduce Western wildfire threats to development on the wildland-urban interface has been spent in the most at-risk zones near developed areas. This conflicts with overall National Fire Plan policy that stipulates that a significant portion of funding should be spent in these high-risk areas, according to the researchers.
A major factor in this low percentage is that the great majority of such lands within 2.5 km of built-up areas are in private hands. This suggests that much of the crucial work, whether funded by federal or local governments or private entities, may not be getting done. It will likely be helpful for your audience to put these kinds of efforts in perspective when covering these recent federal Stimulus funding allocations.
- "Implementation of National Fire Plan Treatments Near the Wildland-Urban Interface in the Western United States," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Schoennagel, et al., published online June 8, 2009.