Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, announced over $5.1 million from the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has been allocated to help the state of Colorado invest in critical wildfire resiliency projects. Funding will go toward fuels management projects currently taking place on nearly 5,395 acres of federal lands across the state. Funds are being directed from the larger, $103 million investment announced by the Department of the Interior earlier this year. This additional funding will help complete fuels treatments on nearly 2 million acres nationwide this fiscal year, a substantial increase in comparison to prior years.
The acreage includes 22 projects across 16 counties including; Dolores, Eagle, Grand, Gunnison, Kiowa, La Plata, Larimer, Mesa, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Otero, Ouray, Rio Blanco, Routt, and San Miguel.
"The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to deliver for the people of Colorado and for our communities impacted by the recent surge of wildfires across the West. This significant increase in funding will protect the families, businesses, and communities most threatened by these disasters and I could not be more grateful to see such widespread support for these vital programs," said Congressman Joe Neguse.
"Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding continues to come Colorado's way," said Bennet. "As climate change fuels drought and more severe wildfire seasons, these funds will go a long way to protect Colorado's communities, forests and watersheds."
"As climate change drives harsher heat waves, more volatile weather, and record drought conditions, we are seeing wildfire seasons turn to wildfire years, threatening communities, businesses, wildlife and the environment," said Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau."Through President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are investing in Colorado communities, advancing wildfire resilience work across the country, improving resources for the heroic firefighting workforce, and reducing the risk of wildfire."
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is bringing much-needed support to communities across the country to increase the resilience of lands facing the threat of wildland fires and to better support federal wildland firefighters. The law includes $1.5 billion for the Department over the next five years to invest in preparedness, fuels management, post-fire restoration, and fire science. It also directs major reforms for federal wildland firefighters, including temporary pay increases and a new occupational series classification more specific to firefighters. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments in wildland fire management in Colorado will increase fuels treatment in areas with high wildfire hazard potential, helping to protect homes and businesses in the wildland-urban interface and public drinking water. These efforts will promote climate resiliency across landscapes and communities and will employ Tribal members, youth, and veterans.
Representative Neguse, Chair of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands and Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus has emerged as a leader among his colleagues in the fight for increased federal support for communities recovering from fires. Most recently, the Colorado Congressman secured passage of the Wildfire Recovery Act through the House of Representatives for the second time, on September 13, 2022. The bill first passed as part of the monumental Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act (H.R. 5118), also sponsored by Representative Neguse. H.R. 5118 is a monumental legislative package that would significantly increase investments to tackle wildfires, boost wildland firefighter pay, and fund resiliency and mitigation projects for communities impacted by recent climate-induced disasters.
Congressman Neguse played a key role in the swift passage and enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a historic piece of legislation that invests in the economy, rebuilds crumbling roads and bridges, and ensures American communities can compete in the 21st Century. Thanks to the advocacy and leadership of Congressman Neguse, the bill also includes several other wildfire response initiatives including funds for wildfire prevention, a pay raise for federal wildland firefighters, and investments in collaborative forest programs, such as the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership.
The state of Colorado is already set to receive the following in federal funding from the historic law:
$3.7 billion for highway projects, $716 million in FY 2022;
$225 million for bridge replacement and repairs, $45 million in FY 2022;
$917 million to improve public transportation, $54 million in FY 2022;
$688 million for water infrastructure,
$432 million for airports,
$35 million for wildfire recovery, including $ 20 billion for the Colorado State University Forest Restoration Research;
$57 million to support the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network throughout the state, $8 million in FY 2022; and
A minimum of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state.