Southern California will receive a share of $930 million in federal funds for wildfire reduction efforts – Orange County Register

The Biden administration’s announcement on Thursday, January 19, that $930 million would be allocated to 10 western states to reduce wildfire dangers was welcome news for US Forest Service officials in Southern California.

Nathan Judy, a spokesman for the Cleveland National Forest, California’s southernmost national forest, which consists of 460,000 acres, said it has yet to be determined how much of that $930 million will go to the US Forest Service’s Southern Region. UU., Which includes Cleveland as well as the national forests of San Bernardino, Angeles and Los Padres.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an announcement that the funding, made possible by President Joe Biden’s landmark Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, will directly protect communities at risk and critical infrastructure in 11 additional landscapes in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

“It is no longer a question of if a wildfire will threaten many western communities in these landscapes, it is a question of when,” Vilsack said in a statement. “The need to invest more and move quickly is evident.”

The injection of federal funds to be used for fuel reduction programs and other wildfire reduction measures will affect nearly 45 million acres in 137 of the 250 high-risk fire shelters in the western US, it said on Thursday the US Forest Service.

Judy said the government funding will increase the Cleveland National Forest’s annual budget for fuel reduction and treatment projects, including tree felling, brush removal and reduction, and controlled burns. She said the Forest Service allocates about $1.2 million a year to the forests that comprise the Southern Region, and Cleveland receives about $400,000 of that.

Communities in and around the Cleveland National Forest include Trabuco Canyon, Wildomar, Ramona, and Temescal Valley. The Pechanga Band of Indians also claims ancestral ties to the land near Lake Elsinore.

Judy said wildfire safety within the forest’s three ranger districts has been a collaborative effort between forest service firefighters, surrounding communities and tribal lands adjacent to the forest.

“Working to do all of this is going to be exciting for us. We look forward to the money coming in,” Judy said.

Last year, the Forest Service announced that it was putting a strategy in place to prevent wildfires that start on public lands from spreading through communities. In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Vilsack acknowledged that worker shortages affecting other sectors of the economy are hampering the agency’s wildfire efforts.