Interior Department Awards $10 Million to Bolster Wildland Fire Resilience Projects Across the Country

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today, June 12, announced $10 million in funding for projects aimed at restoring the health and fire resilience of iconic landscapes nationwide. Project locations span from conifer forests, deserts and sagebrush-steppe in the West to the coastal plain of the Southeast. The 10 selected projects will leverage matching funds for treatments that will affect tens of millions of acres of public land, improving the integrity and resilience of forests and rangelands. The President’s FY 2016 Budget proposes $30 million for the program to provide multi-year support for landscape-scale projects and expand the program to new partnerships. This year marks the first time Congress provided funding for the Wildland Fire Resilient Landscapes projects.

The Wildland Fire Resilient Landscapes Program is a new approach to achieve fire resiliency across landscapes. The Program incorporates goals of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and Secretarial Order 3336, Rangeland Fire Prevention, Management, and Restoration, by ensuring that approved projects emphasize collaborative landscape-scale planning across multiple jurisdictions, lessen the risk from catastrophic wildfire, and enhance the protection of critical natural resources and watersheds. Four of the selected projects specifically target sagebrush-steppe ecosystems in the Great Basin, a focus of the Secretarial Order.

“These projects will help restore critical landscapes, which is essential for mitigating the impacts of fire and climate change,” said Secretary Jewell. “The benefits of increasing the resiliency of our lands and waters to wildfires are wide-ranging, from conserving native species like the greater sage-grouse to restoring rangelands, forests and watersheds. These projects support our efforts to protect our nation’s landscapes for this and future generations.”


Map of DOI projectsThe projects selected for funding in 2015 are listed below. A map, like the one above, and additional information on each project are available here.

  • Bruneau-Owyhee ($166,000) – Located in Idaho, the project will first treat conifer encroachment to benefit fire resiliency and the greater sage-grouse. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will work with several conservation organizations, the Idaho Department of Lands and Office of Species Conservation, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Owyhee County.
  • Grant Grove Peninsula ($89,000) – Located in California, the project seeks to restore fire resiliency in Sequoia groves and other conifer forests while also benefiting watershed health and habitat for Pacific Fisher. The National Park Service (NPS) will work with the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE, University of California-Berkeley, and University of California-Davis.
  • Greater Sheldon Hart Mountain ($3,984,250) – Located in parts of Oregon, Nevada and California, the project focuses on restoring sagebrush shrub and native perennial grass/forb communities by controlling juniper expansion. The restoration work will benefit numerous wildlife species, including several that are listed or candidates under the Endangered Species Act, as well as a number of birds that rely on sagebrush-steppe habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will work with the BLM, Summit Lake Paiute Tribe, and partners, including conservation and hunting groups, private landowners and ranching associations, counties governments, the states of Oregon and Nevada, universities and other federal agencies.
  • Longleaf Pine – South Atlantic ($770,000) – Located in Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina and Virginia, the project will use prescribed burning to help restore resiliency in the fire-adapted Longleaf Pine ecosystem, benefitting the red-cockaded woodpecker and other state and federally listed species. The FWS will work with other federal agencies, South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative members (comprised of state and federal agencies), The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Fund and Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance.
  • Santa Clara Pueblo ($400,000) – Located in New Mexico, the project will complete restoration of the natural fire regime (the natural frequency, intensity, size, pattern, season, and severity of fire) on the mesa top lands, protecting ancient Cliff Dwellings, cultural sites, traditional food sources and watershed health. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is the lead agency, with the Santa Clara Pueblo and other partners.
  • Southern Arizona ($150,750) – Located in Arizona, the project focuses on control of buffelgrass – an exotic fire-adapted invasive grass – in the Southwest desert, restoring natural fire regime and resilience to the biologically rich Sonoran Desert. The NPS will work with FWS, other federal agencies, Pima County and the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center (government agencies and non-government organizations).
  • Southern Utah ($2,605,000) – Located in Utah, the project will remove encroaching pinyon pine and juniper, vary the age of sagebrush communities, and establish vegetation to restore resilience of the landscape, benefitting the greater sage-grouse and other sagebrush-dependent wildlife. The BLM will work with other federal agencies, Utah state agencies, and Utah State University.
  • Southwest Colorado ($557,000) – Located in Colorado and Utah, the project seeks to restore wildland fire resilience across the landscape, including sagebrush communities and river corridors. Using prescribed fire, mechanical treatments and invasive species control, habitat will be improved for the listed Gunnison sage-grouse and a variety of wetland species. The likelihood of large landscape-scale wildfires will be reduced, improving public and firefighter safety. The BLM will work with FWS, NPS and U.S. Forest Service. Other partners include counties, state agencies, and organizations.
  • Valles Caldera ($883,000) – Located in New Mexico, the project seeks to improve the ability of ecosystems to recover from wildfires and other natural disturbance events, in order to sustain healthy forests and watersheds for future generations. The NPS will work with partners that include the U.S. Forest Service, New Mexico State Forestry, The Nature Conservancy, Jemez and Santa Clara Pueblo, universities, Amy Biehl High School, and other organizations.
  • Bi-State Sage-Grouse ($395,000) – Located in Nevada and California inside the Great Basin Desert, the project covers more than four million acres and addresses fire and habitat resiliency for sage-grouse and other wildlife. This project also improves local economies by providing woodland products to the public, tribes, and commercial entities. The BLM is partnering with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Great Basin Institute, and the NRCS.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.