The bill allows the forest service to issue forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grants for projects on federal lands, so long as the project maintains continuity across a landscape including federal lands and the area of federal lands does not exceed the combined area of the nonfederal lands involved in the project.
The bill increases the amount that the forest service may use for the direct and indirect costs in administering the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program from 3% to 7% of any amounts appropriated in any fiscal year.
The bill allows for the technical advisory panel that evaluates the proposals for forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grants to scale up and down in size.
The bill expands the allowable uses of the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program by allowing the grant program to fund capacity-building efforts to provide local governments, community groups, and collaborative forestry groups with the resources and staffing necessary to plan and implement forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation projects, including community and partner outreach and engagement, identifying priority project areas, prescription planning, and acquiring community equipment for use by landowners.
The bill allows for the forest service to hire nontemporary additional field capacity to support the implementation and monitoring of fuels mitigation grant awards and wildfire risk mitigation program grant awards and to hire full-time, nontemporary staff for developing, revising, and implementing community wildfire protection plans and collaborative landscape level prioritization plans; developing and implementing risk mitigation and watershed restoration plans; strengthening the responsible use of prescribed fire; and supporting economically beneficial uses of woody biomass.
The bill also creates 2 funds. First, the bill creates the wildfire mitigation capacity development fund. Money from the wildfire mitigation capacity development fund is continuously appropriated to the department of natural resources to support a number of wildfire related areas administered by the department. Second, the bill creates the hazard mitigation fund to assist local jurisdictions in obtaining the matching funds required for certain federal hazard mitigation grants.
Finally, the bill requires the following transfers:
- $5 million from the general fund to the healthy forests and vibrant communities fund;
- $2.5 million from the general fund to the wildfire risk mitigation revolving fund for loans issued by the wildfire risk mitigation loan program;
- $17.5 million from the general fund to the wildfire mitigation capacity development fund;
- $3 million from the wildfire preparedness fund to the hazard mitigation fund; and
- $600,000 from the wildfire preparedness fund and $1.2 million from the Colorado firefighting air corps fund to the wildfire emergency response fund.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)