Federal Infrastructure Act Funding Can Help Prevent North Bay Wildfires

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Bloomberg Best of the Year 2020: A firefighter carries a hose as buildings burn down in the Skyhawk Park neighborhood of East Santa Rosa during wildfires in Sonoma County, California, United States on Sunday, September 27, 2020 Photographer: Philip Pacheco / Bloomberg

Bay Area elected officials gathered in Santa Rosa on Saturday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, firefighters and community members to announce billions of dollars in funding for forest fire prevention in the recently adopted $ 1 trillion federal infrastructure funding framework.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests $ 7.5 billion in forest fire mitigation and forest health and rehabilitation, and $ 3.4 billion is dedicated specifically to forest fires. The $ 3.4 billion will increase firefighters’ salaries and include many prevention measures, including the mitigation of hazardous fuels – measures that could help prevent the type of devastating wildfires that have ravaged North Bay in recent years. years.

Saturday’s event took place at Coffey Park in Santa Rosa, a neighborhood that was devastated within hours by the Tubbs fire in 2017. U.S. Representatives Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael and Mike Thompson, D-Napa , said the funding will help prevent such fires.

Pelosi told Coffey Park neighbors gathered at the event: “The extraordinary resilience of this community to rebuild from the ruins has been an example for the country. You are of national importance.

The precise amount of money that will arrive in North Bay is not yet available, according to a senior Thompson official. The funding has been placed in several different accounts which will each be allocated according to different formulas, so there is no specific estimate as to how much money will go to California at this time, said the ‘assistant.

However, California is “very well situated” to receive substantial resources of the national investment of 7.5 billion dollars, the assistant said.

California is already expected to get significantly increased investment. For example, of the $ 1 billion made available for wildfire defense grants, California is expected to receive at least $ 84 million, according to the aid.

The $ 3.4 billion specifically earmarked for forest fires includes investments such as:

  • $ 600 million to increase federal firefighters’ salaries to $ 20,000 per year and convert at least 1,000 seasonal firefighters into full-year jobs.
  • $ 500 million for hazardous fuel mitigation.
  • $ 500 million for prescribed burns.
  • $ 500 million for communities to implement their Community Forest Fire Defense Plan, a collaborative plan to address local dangers and risks associated with forest fires.
  • $ 500 million for the fitting out of checkpoints and the installation of fuel cuts,
  • $ 100 million for advance planning of fire response workshops and workforce training.
  • $ 40 million for radio frequency interoperability and to create Reverse-911 systems.
  • $ 20 million for NOAA to create a satellite that will quickly detect fires in areas under federal financial responsibility.
  • $ 10 million for the purchase of real-time forest fire detection and monitoring equipment in high-risk or post-burn areas.

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