A Douglas County non-profit will receive $9 million in prevention grant funding, the second highest award in the state of Oregon. The U.S. Forest Service awarded $9,151,505 through its Community Wildfire Defense Grant program (CWDG) to the Douglas Electric Cooperative, according to a KEZI News report. The non-profit electric utility serves 11,000 meters in a 2,500-square-mile territory that includes Douglas, Coos, and Lane counties in western Oregon.
In Grant County, the town of John Day received two grants, including the state’s largest award of $9,907,344 earmarked for Grant County’s evacuation corridor and fuels management, Forest Service officials said. (This is the same Grant County that arrested a burn boss on a USFS prescribed fire last fall.) The Blue Mountain Eagle reported that Prairie Wood Products also was awarded a $1 million grant as part of an effort to strengthen the wood products economy and promote sustainable forest management. Through the Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance grant program, the Forest Service is providing funding to wood processing facilities to improve, establish, retrofit, or expand facilities that purchase and process byproducts from ecosystem restoration projects on federal or tribal lands.
The Forest Service’s CWDG program invests a total of $23.5 million to assist communities, and often partners with The Nature Conservancy. “In 60 years of working with wildland fire, The Nature Conservancy has learned that successful wildfire adaptation efforts are inevitably grounded in communities,” said Marek Smith, director of TNC’s North America Fire program. “The Community Wildfire Defense Grant program provides an important opportunity to deliver needed resources to communities that are doing the challenging work of living sustainably with wildfire.”
Some of the 100 funded projects — including the Chiloquin Wildfire Risk Reduction and Education project in Oregon — are led by TNC or its partners.
“We’re grateful for support of TNC-involved projects, and we’re deeply grateful to see a broad slate of funded projects that are diverse in terms of scope, communities represented, and geography,” said Smith. “A better future with wildland fire requires that outmoded ideas and approaches are transformed by the vision and experience of diverse communities.”
Forest Service officials said the CWDG program funding is made possible through the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, part of which prioritized low-income communities at risk of a wildfire hazard. An additional round of funding will be announced later this year.