Colorado Legislature invests millions in the fight against wildfires

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East Troublesome Fire from Granby Ranch on Wednesday. (Photo: Kris Ramer)

DENVER (KDVR) — On Monday, the state legislature awarded $6.4 million through the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation grant program toward improving the health of the state’s forests, as four large wildfires remain uncontained.   

Efforts heralded by Governor Polis and other state legislators led to the passing of both SB21-054 and SB21-205, which resulted in $8 million being set aside to help fund Colorado’s fire mitigation efforts, led by the Colorado State Forest Service.   

“Healthy forests are everyone’s responsibility. These state grants awarded today will leverage millions from local governments, private landowners, utilities and others, and support the collaboration we need,“ said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director at Colorado Department of Natural Resources. 

Forty-two applicants from 25 counties across Colorado will be given a portion of the funding to help build community capacity to address wildfires, reduce the risk fires pose to people, property and infrastructure, promote forest health and restoration and lastly, to encourage the use of wood from forest health and fuels reduction projects.  

“We are so excited to make this important investment in decreasing fire risk and improving forest health. Ongoing drought has increased fire risk in many parts of our state and the increased funds from these forest health grants can immediately go into projects on the ground to assist communities in need while also providing a boost to local economies,” said Governor Jared Polis. 

While on a tour of the areas most affected by the drought, the governor visited Elk Head Reservoir State Park in Craig. There he announced that 677 acre-feet of water will be given to local farmers at no cost to help combat the dry conditions.  

“I applaud Governor Polis and our state legislators for recognizing the urgency to make additional funds available to address wildfire risk and other forest health issues,” said Susan Matthews, interim state forester and director of the CSFS. 

The next round of funding assistance through the FRWRM grant program will be announced during the summer of 2022. 

More information on the program as well as a full list of those 42 awardees can be found here. 

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