Federal land management agencies, in coordination with states and other partners, are continuing to work on the implementation of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). This month, major announcements were made by both the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the USDA Forest Service (Forest Service) on strategies and specific investments to combat the wildfire crisis. The President’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2023 was released.
(To download a PDF of the Policy Update, please visit our publication library.)
DOI Wildfire Risk Five-Year Monitoring, Maintenance, and Treatment Plan to Address Wildfire Risk
A roadmap for achieving the BIL objectives of addressing wildfire risk and preparing communities and ecosystems against the threat of wildfire was released by DOI. BIL provided $1.5 billion to DOI’s Wildland Fire Management Program to put towards forest restoration, hazardous fuels management, and post-fire restoration activities. The Wildfire Risk Five-Year Monitoring, Maintenance, and Treatment Plan, taken together with the Forest Service’s 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy, outlines the collective strategy for these agencies to address wildfire risk, in coordination with federal, non-federal, and Tribal partners.
Forest Service BIL Initial Investments
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $131 million in BIL investments across 10 landscapes as part of the Forest Service’s 10-year wildfire strategy. This round of investments will be implemented in FY 2022. The process looked at high-risk landscapes and then worked to identify landscapes that:
- have projects that are at scale or can be built out to scale;
- are outcome-driven;
- are collaboratively developed with communities and ready for implementation;
- allow for investment in underserved communities;
- could leverage current partner investments; and
- could maximize the use of existing authorities.
Ultimately, the initial investments in 10 landscapes were selected within the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.
FY 2023 President’s Budget Request
President Biden released the budget request for FY 2023, beginning the appropriations process for this upcoming FY. It outlines a proposal to increase Forest Service Wildland Fire Management funding by $778 million, to $3.9 billion. $306.96 million is requested for State and Private Forestry. Additional details can be found within the Forest Service’s Budget Justification.
$2.8 billion in project and program allocations were proposed by USDA and DOI for FY 2023 under the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) authorizations. The National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund was established under the GAOA and authorized for up to $1.9 billion, aiming to reduce deferred maintenance on public lands and at Indian schools. $900 million a year in permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was also provided as part of the GAOA. FY 2023 LWCF funding allocation for DOI can be found here and for the Forest Service here.