April 13, 2024

$138 million investment to support wildland firefighting announced in Boise

BOISE, Idaho — Wildland fire management is getting more support to the tune of $138 million as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

During a visit to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise on Tuesday, Acting Deputy Security of the Interior Laura Daniel-Davis announced the national investment. Through the agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, $1.5 billion is being invested in wildland firefighting support over five years. 

Daniel-Davis announced the $138 million investment in fiscal year 2024 will go toward training, helping reduce the risk of extreme wildfires, rehabilitating burned areas and advancing fire science.

“In Idaho, to date, the Interior Department has allocated more than $17 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for plant fuels management, and importantly, postfire rehabilitation projects,” Daniel-Davis said. 

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and the Bureau of Land Management were also in attendance for Tuesday’s event at the National Interagency Fire Center campus.

“No one agency can do it alone. That’s why federal and state agencies – many based here at NIFC – serve as the logistical and support center for the nation’s wildland fires, and at times, other national disasters and emergencies,” said Grant Beebe, BLM’s assistant director for fire and aviation. “We rely closely on our state, local partners, the ranching community, it takes all hands to respond to fires and to prevent fires.” 

RELATED: Wildland fire agencies work to create ‘better work-life balance’ as fire seasons grow longer

$12.4 million from Tuesday’s announced investment is set to go toward modernizing wildland fire training and position qualifications, according to a news release from the Interior Department. $7.5 will be used to help support areas unable to naturally recover due to recent wildfires. 

Daniel-Davis further expanded on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and how it is allocated during the Idaho event:

“There is a specific allocation for wildland firefighting and sort of a broad allocation across all of the areas that we look at and that goes to fuels treatment, to actual fighting on the ground itself, to rehabilitation of burned areas that need that help – all that’s covered by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the president’s Investing in America agenda,” Daniel-Davis said. “Together, with communities and our partners, including tribes to pull all of that together, it’s going to make a big difference out on the landscape.”

In September 2022, a lightning storm started a series of wildfires that negatively impacted an elk and deer winter range habitat in Idaho, according to Daniel-Davis. She said funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is now helping re-seed and plant native vegetation, along with treating invasive species in that area. 

As for this fire season, Beebe said it’s tough to predict what’s going to happen from June through September, but he believes another busy fire season like we had before 2023 is likely. Beebe added, as always, officials plan for the worst and hope for the best.

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