I’ve got more on NEPA and the debt ceiling but everyone’s probably tired of that.. so here’s a nice article by reporter Shannon Mullane of the Colorado Sun on Colorado getting $ for PODs and fuel breaks.
On May 4, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited Durango, roughly an hour west of Pagosa Springs, to announce a total of $63 million for fuel breaks from the $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed in 2021, and the $700 billion Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which reflect a historic amount of investment, he said. The funds will go to Colorado, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota and Wyoming.
According to the story, if there is 63 mill total and Colorado is getting 46.7 mill. that’s about 74% of the $ that are supposed to go to five states. Maybe the other states got more of the other BIL and IRA funding? Sure, we’re special (and Secretary Vilsack’s son was hired from the State government to be BLM Director) but are we that special?
The article discusses PODs and how they’re developed. There’s also a discussion of the importance of protecting municipal water supplies.
That’s what the San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership, a collection of land managers, government officials and community partners working across sectors and jurisdictions, was discussing during a 2018 tour along Fourmile Road.
The group mapped out vegetation types, terrain and the locations of roads, rivers and rocky turf — the same process used throughout San Juan National Forest and some nearby lands to identify areas where crews would have the best chance of containing a potential fire, called potential operational delineations, or PODs.
“You get all the fire experts in a room and say, ‘Hey, we don’t have a fire now, but if we hypothetically had fires all over this landscape, piece by piece, where would you start?’” Lawhon said.
On the first anniversary of the fire, the fuel break project was an important “invisible success,” said Guinn, who helped put together a documentary about the fire for the headwaters partnership. The fact that a community group identified it as a way to protect municipal water supply — and that the Forest Service jumped in to partner on the project — was significant, she said.
“This fire could have turned into something that was a much more challenging event for our community down the line,” Guinn said. “But because we had done some pre-planning, and a variety of other factors came together, we were able to be prepared as a community and help our emergency responders help us.”
With the influx of funding, other fire mitigation and fuel break projects are set to start as soon as this summer, said the Forest Service’s Lawhon. From Dolores to Pagosa Springs, no watersheds that the San Juan National Forest works in are owned by a single entity. The POD units, which have been mapped across the region, break the landscape into manageable chunks and help agencies work across complex jurisdictional boundaries.
It’s a whole-system approach that could make a significant difference in how effectively communities prepare for an increasingly long and intense wildfire season, Lawhon said.
“You have to do this cross-boundary, multipartner approach, or you won’t be successful,” he said.
It’s interesting to think about where we read about PODs and where not.. is everyone delineating them across the country? And for Jon, do they/should they require plan amendments?