The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), H.R. 3684, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), H.R. 5376, provide historical investments to support healthy urban and rural forests and address wildland fire risk across western landscapes. These funds are critically important to state and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Island forestry agencies as they move the needle on priority issues affecting state, private, and federal forests within their boundaries.
CWSF is excited to showcase stories from member states and Pacific Islands about how BIL and IRA programs and funds are being implemented across the western region. Examples of related funding and programs include the Community Wildfire Defense Grants, Good Neighbor Authority, State Forest Action Plan Implementation funds, Urban and Community Forestry, Forest Legacy Program, and more. Please see the resources section below for relevant webpage links.
We hope that this webpage will help to tell the story of the work being accomplished and also provide content for other partners and platforms. Additional stories will be added as they become available.
The primary goal for the FSP-BIL project was to install two small 15’x15’ nurseries on FSP landowner client lands. Establishing two new nurseries provides better access to clients who are unable to visit the ASCC-ACNR Forestry Greenhouse due to transportation limitations, COVID restrictions, and conflicting daily schedules. The first nursery was established in the village of Auto, and the second nursery in the village of Amanave. Both sites are easily accessible and managed by stay-at-home gardeners who have agreed to long-term maintenance and use of the nurseries, as directed by a Memorandum of Understanding. The new BIL-funded nurseries have the same functions and services as the ASCC-ACNR Forestry Greenhouse. Forestry staff and interns visit the nurseries monthly to collect data and assist with activities such as weeding, transplanting, pruning, and more. Since June 2023, a total of 173 native saplings have been distributed to six clients and one church group. Both nurseries are still being developed, and once completed, the Forestry Program will distribute more trees to these nurseries and encourage residents and communities to visit them.
Both nurseries are located in American Samoa’s Forest Action Plan (FAP) priority areas and help to implement critical issues and strategies outlined in the FAP. These issues and strategies include educating the public and farmers about the importance of preserving native forests and landscaping alternatives to reduce the rate of conversion to impervious surfaces, planting native trees or soil-stabilizing grasses on stream corridors and riparian zones to mitigate soil erosion, and promoting agroforestry in urban zones to prevent clearing upslope.
While the project will conclude in December 2024, these nurseries will continue to serve the FSP, landowners, and clients for the long term.
The Kansas Forest Service (KFS) received Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding from the USDA Forest Service State, Private, and Tribal Forestry to enhance state and tribal nurseries and seed orchards. The funding was directed to two major projects: the improvement of the conservation seedling nursery shadehouse structure and efficiency and capacity improvements for collecting, processing, and storing bulk tree seed for direct seeding reforestation and afforestation projects.
The KFS Conservation Trees Program produces containerized conservation-grade tree and shrub seedlings, distributes bare-root conservation-grade tree and shrub seedlings produced by partner nurseries, and produces, collects, and processes tree and shrub seed for seedling production and bulk seed supply for direct seeding of trees in reforestation/afforestation projects. It has been in its operating location since the mid-1950s and expanded in the 1960s, where its focus was on coniferous species for windbreaks. Over the years, most of the demand and consequent production has shifted to primarily hardwood species and, as a result, the KFS seed and seedling production facilities have a reduced potential to meet existing demand.
The renovation of the shadehouse facility began in December of 2022, with an anticipated completion in May 2024. The BIL funds will be used to purchase a clearspan shadehouse along with an irrigation system, rack lifters, and other equipment and supplies used for containerized seedling production at KFS. The outcome of this project will be increased seedling production capacity, efficiency, and improved seedling quality.
The improvements to the tools, supplies, and equipment used in seed collection and processing began in July 2023 and will conclude in July 2024. These improvements will begin with collection and processing efficiencies to increase capacity of the bulk tree and shrub seed program at KFS through purchasing equipment and supplies for faster seed collection, faster and more effective seed processing, and more efficient seed storage. The outcome of this project will be increased volume and quality of seed available for reforestation and afforestation projects via direct seeding in Kansas, and throughout the Midwest.
If you would like to learn more about these projects, contact Kansas Forest Service Water Quality Forester Andy Klein at email@example.com.
Submitted by the Nebraska Forest Service
In April 2022, Nebraska found itself grappling with an extended drought that had persisted for nearly a year. The situation had grown dire, with the onset of the fire season occurring much earlier than usual, leading many to wonder if the previous year's fire season had ever truly ended. Nebraska was experiencing wildland fires in parts of the state that generally did not see or experience large destructive wildfires. This was particularly true with the Road 702 and Road 739 wildfires. Both wildfires were wind-driven, fast-moving fires consuming around 40,000 acres each and destroying homes and property.
The focus of this story isn't the fires themselves but rather the insights the state gained while navigating these fires. Many volunteer fire departments lacked appropriate wildland fire gear when responding to these local disasters. The volunteers wore their structural bunker gear, which is heavy, hot, and unsuitable for wildfire suppression. In response to this pressing need, the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) embarked on a mission to make a lasting impact and assist these volunteer fire departments in securing the appropriate wildland fire gear for future wildfire incidents.
Utilizing funding from the BIL Volunteer Fire Assistance program, NFS leveraged the funds against other state and federal funds to establish the Wildland Volunteer Fire Assistance program, a competitive grant program at 75% cost-share.
The Wildland Volunteer Fire Assistance program provided wildland fire gear to volunteer fire departments in need. Items purchased included individual firefighter PPE, including Nomex clothing, fire shelters, hand tools, and more. This program was a great success, ultimately leading to NFS funding 103 departments with a total project cost of over $1 million.
Submitted by the North Dakota Forest Service
The North Dakota Forest Service hired a Wildland Training Technician to expand wildland fire trainings to North Dakota Rural Fire Departments and other cooperators. The added position, whose salary and operating expenses are supported by BIL Forest Action Plan funding, is intended to expand and enhance the Fire Management Program’s comprehensive wildland fire training and mentoring process and engage rural fire departments.
The role of the Wildland Training Technician is primarily focused on developing and implementing wildland fire curriculum with the North Dakota Firefighters Association and delivered during the annual fire school in Minot each winter. In addition, individualized trainings are held at the department’s training facilities in the evenings and on weekends.
Other opportunities to increase wildland firefighter capacity in the state included providing Basic Wildland Firefighter Certification to the North Dakota National Guard (NDNG). Over four days, forty-five service members were trained in both classroom and field settings. These trained firefighters help to add capacity during spring and fall wildland fire seasons when traditional resources are scarce. During severe fire years, large devastating wildfires like the one that necessitated the evacuation of Medora in early April 2021, happen before seasonal firefighters are available. Adding NDNG resources can help North Dakota help ourselves when disaster strikes.
Utah’s Forest Legacy Program Preserves Over 18,000 Acres with IRA Funding
The Utah Forest Legacy Program (FLP) received $14.4 million in the latest round of funding through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to preserve 18,648 acres in two project sites in Northern Utah.
The Coldwater Project in Cache County will preserve 15,623 acres of forested land and receive $10,545,000 of IRA funding. This project is a rare opportunity for landscape-level conservation as it ties together an expanse of National Forest System lands, a state wildlife management area, and existing FLP projects within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bear River Watershed Conservation Area. Through IRA funds, this property will receive a conservation easement to preserve crucial habitat for several state-sensitive species, including the bald eagle, and includes a major elk migration corridor. This project also contributes to the local timber industry and offers public access for recreation and hunting.
The Goring Forest Project in Rich and Cache County will receive $3,935,000 to preserve 2,725 acres of highly developable private forest within the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. This project site is one hour from the Wasatch Front – one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. The project supports a watershed-wide conservation strategy and collaborative efforts of state and federal agencies to increase the pace and scale of conservation throughout the tri-state Bear River Watershed (Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho). A conservation easement will protect crucial moose, elk, and deer habitat and a critical interstate wildlife corridor.
Each site is bordered by state and federal partners who also manage their lands to meet agency-specific conservation objectives. For example, the Coldwater Project works with state and federal wildlife agencies to preserve valuable wildlife habitat in areas of the state that are starting to experience high interest from developers. This project ties together conservation work being done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, and the Utah Division of Wildlife.