Fire Safe Councils - Funding - Federal Funding

Federal Funding

Since 2000, the National Fire Plan and the subsequent Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI) have been the primary source of funding for fire safe councils to do fuel reduction projects on private lands. Currently, in California and Nevada these funds are administered by the California Fire Safe Council, Inc. (CFSCI) which operates the Fire Safe California Grants Clearinghouse on behalf of the California Fire Alliance. Funding is provided to the Grants Clearinghouse by the US Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. In fiscal year 2008-2009, 119 projects throughout California and Nevada will be administered by the Grants Clearinghouse for a total of $13,159,683. (Note that these agencies, notably the USFS, have other grant funding streams that do not go through the Clearinghouse.) Since there is a restriction by these funding sources that projects be "in the vicinity" of Federal lands (generally interpreted to mean within 1.5 miles unless otherwise specified by an approved Community Wildfire Protection Plan), many FSCs are not able to qualify. These programs are due to sunset in the next few years unless Congress takes action to renew them.

Beginning in 2001, Title II and Title III funds from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000 (AKA "HR 2389") were another source of funds for FSCs in Counties that qualify for HR 2389 payments, especially for staff, operations, and education projects, as funds from the Grants Clearinghouse are generally not available for these functions. In FY 2008, the state of California received a total of $3,892,863 in Title II funds, and $6,888,856.96 in Title III. These funds were paid to Counties, and it was up to the Counties to decide how they are used. Many Counties used at least a portion of the funds for fire safe activities.

HR 2389 expired at the end of 2006, although Congress approved emergency extensions through 2008.

Then in December 2008, reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act through 2012 was included in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. However, major changes were made to Title III which mean that not only has the available funding been significantly reduced, it can no longer be used to cover the administrative costs of fire safe councils. Several councils that depended on this funding to keep their doors open are now struggling to survive.

Read more about this topic:  Fire Safe Councils, Funding

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