Ashland Awarded Grant from U.S. Forest Service for Wildfire Planning
The City of Ashland was awarded $249,700 from the USDA Forest Service’s Community Wildfire Defense Grant to rewrite the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, or CWPP. This announcement came on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, when Department of Agriculture Under Secretary, Dr Homer Wilkes, and U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief, Jaelith Hall-Rivera, met local partners at Southern Oregon University.
Wildfire Division Chief Chris Chambers said, “We’re really honored to receive this award because our wildfire situation has changed dramatically in just a decade and we need a new game plan. Ashland has always come together to work on topics critical to this community, and we want to bring citizens and local partners to the table to chart a new course to wildfire safety.”
Ashland’s CWPP guided the creation of the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project (AFR) and laid out actions to increase community safety. Since the original plan was inked in 2004, the City has worked with local, state and federal partners to do nearly 14,000 acres of fuels reduction around the watershed, develop the Fire Adapted Ashland program, grow 35 Firewise USA neighborhoods, build a Wildfire Division within the fire department, secure tens of millions of dollars in grants, and become known across the country for proactive wildfire mitigation and forest restoration.
“We have a long way to go where every citizen is helping us become more adapted to fire,” added Chambers. “Climate change is moving faster than we’re adapting. Everyone has to understand what puts us at risk and do their part because the wildfire solution isn’t a fire engine on every street, it’s every person taking responsibility.”
“We are better together!”
Additional information on top photo:
Forest Service Deputy Chief of State, Private and Tribal Forestry Jaelith Hall-Rivera joins Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Dr. Homer Wilkes during a visit to Siskiyou Mountain Park where they spoke with Tribal Ecological Trainees from Klamath Tribes and affiliates working as part of the Tribal Ecological Forestry Training Program on the Lomakatsi Restoration Project. This project has performed 400+ acres of fuel treatments in the communities interface in partnership with the Oregon Conservation Corps and other Oregon state programs.
Wilkes made the visit after announcing Community Wildfire Defense Grants during an event at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, March 21, 2023. Mayor Tonya Graham was in attendance.
USDA’s Forest Service plans to announce $197 million in investments to 100 projects under the new Community Wildfire Defense Grant (CWDG) program, which assists at-risk communities, including Tribal communities, with planning for and mitigation of wildfire risks. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) authorized the program with an investment of $1 billion over five years, starting in FY 2022.
(USDA Forest Service photo by Preston Keres)