Fiscal year (FY) appropriations bills were still not finalized as the Continuing Resolution (CR) passed in December expired this month. Another CR was passed providing a stopgap until agreement can be reached. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Office of Wildland Fire released their initial spend plan for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (infrastructure law).
(To download a PDF of the Policy Update, please visit our publication library.)
The previous CR maintaining government funding was set to expire on February 18. After passage in the House on February 8, the Senate passed a short term CR the day before the expiration, continuing funding through March 11. This will allow bicameral negotiations on FY2022 appropriations bills to continue in the coming weeks. Appropriations leaders have indicated agreement has been reached on a spending framework with the aim to pass appropriations by this next deadline. View State Forester priorities for FY2022 here.
Infrastructure Law Implementation at DOI Office of Wildland Fire
The infrastructure law, which spans five FYs, provides $1.46 billion total over that period for DOI’s Wildland Fire Management, representing an average increase of 29% over FY2021 funding. A press release announced DOI’s initial plan for investments to increase community and landscape resilience and provided greater support to federal wildland firefighters. The spend plan outlines the year-by-year framework for funding supporting preparedness, fuels management, burned area rehabilitation, and joint fire science.
Within the infrastructure law, DOI’s Wildland Fire Management is allocated $1.055 billion for wildfire risk reduction activities within section 40803, $178 million for fuels management activities, and $225 million for post-fire restoration. Once you sort the activities within the wildfire risk reduction section for DOI into their applicable categories, the totals over five years for Wildland Fire Management are:
- Preparedness: $245 million;
- Fuels Management: $878 million;
- Burned Area Rehabilitation: $325 million; and
- Joint Fire Science: $10 million.
Preparedness includes increased compensation for federal firefighters, converting more firefighters to year-round employment, workshops and training, equipment, satellite detection and reporting, and wildfire detection and monitoring. Fuels management funding will support mechanical thinning, prescribed fire, and employing contractors, young adults, veterans, and youth from Tribal Nations. Burned area rehabilitation will help mitigate the damaging effects of wildfires and the Joint Fire Science Program will use funding to “climate change interactions, smoke management concerns, impacts on diverse populations, and management actions that will make ecosystems more wildfire and drought resistant.”