Denver, CO

Millions to be invested to fight fires and protect forest health in Colorado

Steven Bonifazi
(Ivan Zhirnov/Unsplash)

By Steven Bonifazi

(DENVER, Colo.) Governor Jared Polis announced awards for the 2021 Forest Restoration and Wildlife Fire Risk Mitigation grant cycle on Monday, declaring $6.4 million will be awarded to reduce the risk of forest fires in the Centennial State.

The announcement comes nearly a year after the Cameron Peak wildfire and additional historic wildfires such as the East Troublesome fire ravaged the state's forests. Furthermore, there are multiple wildfires currently burning in the state, according to a press release from Gov. Polis' office.

The funding from the Forest Restoration and Wildlife Risk Mitigation (FRWRM) grant program is offered to municipalities, local fire departments, home owner associations and more to aid Coloradans and communities in preparing for wildfires as well as improving the health of the state's forests.

“We are so excited to make this important investment in decreasing fire risk and improving forest health. Ongoing drought has increased fire risk in many parts of our state and the increased funds from these forest health grants can immediately go into projects on the ground to assist communities in need while also providing a boost to local economies,” said Gov. Polis.  “I appreciate the Colorado State Forest Service staff and all those involved for their work to get this historic investment to where it is urgently needed across our state.”

A total of 42 applicants from 25 counties statewide will receive funding from the 2021 FRWRM grant cycle to build community capacity regarding addressing wildfires, reduce the risk of wildfires to people, property and infrastructure, promote the health and restoration of forests and encourage the utilization of wood from forest health and drive reduction projects. The grant program is administered by the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS).

SB21-054, which appropriated a total of $6 million to the FRWRM program for this grant cycle and SB21-205, which increased and stabilized funding up to $8 million for the program were both signed by Gov. Polis this spring to tackle the increasing threat of wildfires in Colorado.

Counties of projects awarded funds from FRWRM during the 2021 cycle are as follows:

  • Alamosa
  • Archuleta
  • Boulder
  • Chaffee
  • Clear Creek
  • Custer, Douglas
  • El Paso
  • Garfield
  • Grand
  • Gunnison
  • Huerfano
  • Jefferson
  • La Plata
  • Larimer
  • Las Animas
  • Mesa
  • Montezuma
  • Montrose
  • Ouray
  • Park
  • Pueblo
  • Routt
  • San Miguel
  • Teller

Twelve of the projects that are receiving funding are situated in areas with fewer economic resources available.

“Healthy forests are everyone's responsibility. These state grants awarded today will leverage millions from local governments, private landowners, utilities and others and support the collaboration we need," said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. "I'm proud of all of the Coloradans who are stepping up to make their communities safer and restore our forests.”

For more information regarding the FRWRM grant program, click here.

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