USDA Forest Service awards grants to 4 Big Island communities for mitigating wildfires
Four Hawai‘i Island communities and Kaua‘i County are receiving more than $400,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to plan for and mitigate wildfire risks.
The Community Wildfire Defense Grants are part of the Forest Service’s $197 million investment in 100 project proposals benefiting 22 states and seven tribes. Proposals underwent a competitive selection process.
The agency narrowed down the communities in greatest need by three priorities: impacted by severe disaster, with high or very high wildfire hazard potential, or classified as low income.
The funding for Hawai‘i will be used to update Community Wildfire Protection Plans by engaging community and agency partners to collaboratively complete a revised hazard assessment, identify shared wildfire concerns and begin prioritizing risk-reducing actions.
The Community Wildfire Protection Plans that will receive funding to be updated:
- Northwest Hawai‘i plan from 2016: $84,700
- South Kona plan from 2015: $84,700
- Ka‘u plan plan from 2015: $84,700
- Oceanview plan from 2015: $84,700
- Kaua‘i Fire Department updating 2016 plan for Kaua‘i County: $78,000
The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife will assist these communities in updating their plans. It also will work with the Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization to conducts hazard assessments and helps communities identify risks and ways to reduce them.
“As we experience climate change we’re seeing year-round wildfire activity in Hawai‘i,” said Mike Walker, State Protection Forester.
The program funding comes under the 2021 Biden-Harris Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which included $7 billion to enhance the country’s protections and response to wildfires.