Senate Infrastructure Bill and Fire and Fuels: Wildfire Today

Bill Gabbert on Wildfire Today did a great job of summarizing the fuels and fire requests in the new infrastructure bill. I wonder whether anyone has reviewed it for other topics of forest or National Forest and BLM interest… if you have seen such, please post below. If you would like to review it for us, please do!

From Bill’s post..

The bill authorizes $600 million for management of personnel — those who fight fires.

The bill directs OPM to develop a distinct “wildland firefighter” occupational series.
The DOI and FS shall convert no fewer than 1,000 seasonal wildland firefighters to wildland firefighters that are full-time, permanent, year-round Federal employees who will reduce hazardous fuels on Federal land for at least 800 hours each year.
The base salaries of Federal wildland firefighters will be increased by the lesser of an amount that is commensurate with an increase of $20,000 per year or an amount equal to 50 percent of the base salary.
Develop mitigation strategies for wildland firefighters to minimize exposure due to line-of-duty environmental hazards.
Establish programs for permanent, temporary, seasonal, and year-round wildland firefighters to recognize and address mental health needs, including care for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Other provisions of the the bill. (M = million)

$20M, Satellite fire detection
$10M, Radio interoperability
$30M, Reverse 911 systems
$50M, Slip-on firefighting modules for pickup trucks
$100M, Pre-fire planning, and training personnel for wildland firefighting and vegetation treatments
$20M, Data management for fuels projects and large fires
$20M, Joint Fire Science Program (research)
$100M, Planning & implementing projects under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program
$500M, Mechanical thinning, timber harvesting, pre-commercial thinning
$500M, Wildfire defense grants for at risk communities
$500M, Prescribed fires
$500M, Constructing fuelbreaks
$200M, Remove fuels, produce biochar and other innovative wood products
$200M, Post-fire restoration
$8M, Firewood banks
$10M, Wildfire detection and real-time monitoring equipment
One issue this legislation does not address is the inadequate funding of aerial firefighting, the use of air tankers and helicopters to assist firefighters on the ground by dropping water or retardant to slow the spread of wildfires, which is necessary for Homeland Security. The Federal agencies entered the year with 18 large air tankers and 28 large Type 1 helicopters, when they should have 40 large air tankers and 50 large helicopters on exclusive use 10-year contracts instead of the existing 1-year contracts.

Questions: (1) Anyone happen to know what firewood banks are? (2) it seems like there is some potential overlap between CFLRP projects, thinning, projects funded by wildfire defense grants, prescribed burning projects and fuelbreaks.. plus states also have funding for some of the same sounding things, plus regular appropriations for feds… has anybody added all that up and seen what it amounts to in total?

3 thoughts on “Senate Infrastructure Bill and Fire and Fuels: Wildfire Today”

    • Thanks A! “Like tens of thousands of others in Indigenous nations in northern Arizona, Letseoma and her family are facing a home heating crisis exacerbated by the shuttering of a nearby coal mine that has resulted in a loss of free coal for heating and cooking stoves.” Seems like someone missed the boat in terms of a “just transition” as we say in Colorado.

  1. I suspect that this plan will strip timber crews of their fire-qualified people, wanting an actual career ladder. Little does Congress know that a lack of thinning projects will be a bottleneck to fire safety goals. Yep, it’s going to be sooo easy to pluck people off the street to wield a paintgun, choosing which trees live and die.


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