Sacramento – While California experiences another destructive fire season, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) announced that more than $170 million has been awarded in grants to prevent catastrophic wildfires, like the Carr Fire and Mendocino Complex, and restore forest health. More than 100 agencies and organizations across California will receive funding to help the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires and sequester carbon.
With funds provided by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for California Climate Investments (CCI), CAL FIRE awarded 142 fire prevention grants totaling $79.7 million and 23 forest health projects totaling $91.5 million.
The Fire Prevention grants will enable local organizations like fire safe councils, to implement activities that address the risk of wildfire and reduce wildfire potential to communities and forests. Funded activities include hazardous fuel reduction, fire planning, and fire prevention education with an emphasis on improving public health and safety, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“California continues to invest millions of dollars into creating healthier, more resilient forests that benefit all of us,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director and California’s state forester. “Already this year more than 700,000 acres have burned across the state creating significant carbon releases that counter our efforts at reducing greenhouse gases. Local projects funded by this money will prevent wildfires before they start, and when combined with our fire prevention activities, will help move us toward our greenhouse gas reduction goals.”
CAL FIRE’s Forest Health grants were distributed to non-profits and local and state resource agencies to implement collaborative projects that extend across multiple land ownerships. These projects seek to improve water quality, manage forest pests, and increase the use of tools such as prescribed fire and hazardous fuels reduction to create resiliency in California’s forests. Multiple projects include a bioenergy component—turning trees killed by drought and bark beetles into energy.
Five of the Forest Health grants will enable the purchase of conservation easements under CAL FIRE’s Forest Legacy Program. These grants will protect more than 14,000 acres of forestland in Humboldt and Sonoma counties from urban and agricultural development which would increase greenhouse gas emissions. To date, CAL FIRE’s Forest Legacy Program has conserved nearly 111,996 acres of working forest lands in California.
The 165 grants announced today were made possible by proceeds from California’s cap-and-trade program to combat climate change. Through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, CAL FIRE and other state agencies are investing in projects that directly reduce greenhouse gases while providing a wide range of additional benefits in California communities.
This May, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced the creation of the Forest Management Task Force to address the issue of the health of California’s forests, which have been adversely impacted by drought and climate change. The Task Force held its first meeting on June 11 and has scheduled a second meeting for August 13. The Task Force is working to facilitate strategies to reduce risk of wildfire and increase the pace and scale of forest restoration activities leading to improved watersheds.