U.S. Senator Romney (R-UT) today welcomed an announcement from the Department of the Interior that it has invested more than $5.5 million in fiscal year 2022 funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to advance wildfire resilience work and support fuels management projects in Utah on 24,490 acres of land across the state. This is part of $103 million allocated by the Department earlier this year to reduce wildfire risk, mitigate impacts, and rehabilitate burned areas. The additional funding will help complete fuels treatments on nearly 2 million acres nationwide this fiscal year, a substantial increase over the prior year.
“I was proud to help negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will better position Utah and our country to meet the infrastructure-related challenges of the 21st century,” Senator Romney said. “As the American West continues to get drier and years of poor management practices have caused fires to become more destructive, it becomes more imperative that we improve strategies which bolster wildfire resilience and prevent future wildfires from becoming catastrophic disasters in our state and across the West. That’s why I worked to ensure this funding was included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and I look forward to seeing these projects come to fruition to reduce wildfire risks and rehabilitate areas already affected.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, negotiated by Senator Romney and his colleagues, 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. It includes $1.5 billion for the Department of Interior 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.
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act investments in wildland fire management in Utah 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.
A portion of this year’s wildfire resilience funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will be used to continue development of a wildfire risk mapping and mitigation tool, which is being developed jointly with USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. The tool will assist land managers in collectively identifying potential wildfire risks and sharing planned and accomplished mitigation activities. It also provides increased support to the Joint Fire Science Program, an interagency partnership with the USDA Forest Service that funds wildfire science research projects.