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By Todd Hartman
Special to The SUN
The Colorado Department of Natural Resources is accepting applications for a new Wildfire Risk Reduction Grant Program. The program will provide $9.8 million in grants to reduce the risk of wildfire in areas where human development and forested lands overlap, areas often called the wildland-urban interface.
The program, created under Senate Bill 13-269 and passed this year by the Colorado General Assembly, is focused on projects that reduce the risk for damage to property, infrastructure and water supplies, and those that limit the likelihood of wildfires spreading into populated areas. Funds will be directed to non-federal lands within Colorado.
Eligible applicants include community groups, local governments, utilities, state agencies and non-profit groups. Applicants must contribute 100 percent matching funds, which can include in-kind resources, for a 50-50 grant-to-match ratio. Applicants must also identify plans to make use of the woody material resulting from the projects. Those plans can include using the materials for biomass energy and/or traditional forest products.
Examples of projects considered for funding include:
• Creation of defensible space around homes and structures, based on Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) guidelines.
• Construction of fuel breaks, based on CSFS guidelines.
• Fuels reduction beyond defensible space, designed to protect water supplies and/or reduce fire intensity.
Up to 25 percent of total grant funds are available to pay for the purchase of equipment that will increase current and future capacity for hazardous fuels reduction. Applicants interested in using funds for these purposes should include a specific explanation of how the equipment will be used and maintained beyond the life of the project.
All applicants must coordinate proposed projects with relevant county officials to ensure consistency with county-level wildfire risk reduction planning. The deadline to receive proposals is July 17 and awards are anticipated in mid-August.
A more detailed overview of the grant program and its requirements and limitations, as well as the grant application itself, is available through this link of the Department of Natural Resources website: http://dnr.state.co.us/Media/Pages/WFRRGrantProgram.aspx.