NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The federal government is shelling out more than $11-million toward several wildfire prevention projects across New Mexico. The funding will mainly benefit work happening around homes and properties in northern New Mexico, but some funding will address projects in San Miguel, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties.
In all, five different projects were awarded funding in New Mexico. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Wildfire Defense grant program. A boost in funding for that program came as part of the 2022 infrastructure bill.
The lion’s share of New Mexico’s grant funding is going toward a project by the Cimarron Watershed Alliance and Colfax Collaborative Wildland Urban Interface. They received more than $8-million to “create defensible space around homes and structures,” thin forests, maintain and existing and build new fuel breaks.
The grant funded program hopes to treat 150 to 175 property each year for the next five years, however the grant award does not describe exactly which counties are subject to the funding. The project hopes to treat 3,400 acres of wild land over the next five years.
Cimarron Watershed Alliance also won a second federal grant for the Flying Horse Ranch Fuel Break project. The $1.8-million project will “maintain and widen an existing four-mile fuel break,” plus, expand the break by more than 10 miles, covering 702 acres.
Project leaders say “14.2 mile fuel break project is a small but critical piece of approximately 75 miles of fuel breaks that are currently being planned and implemented” in northern New Mexico counties. The grant is said to be helping Enchanted Circle Priority Landscape in Taos and Colfax counties.
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A third grant will help address fire risk in San Miguel County. More than $235-thousand will help execute the county’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan over the next two years. Project leader say the plan “identifies high priority projects including training, community education and outreach, and evacuation projects.”
Sandoval County will receive $63,000 for a project to update its Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP.) The plan is described as “a useful document for both first responders and community members” in the wildlife urban interface.
Finally, in Santa Fe, the Forest Stewards Guild will get $1.34-million to for community wildfire mitigation in the Greater Santa Fe Fire Shed. The project is expected to results in “measurable timely outcome over the next five years,” including more than 500 home hazard assessments, fire fuels treatment of more than 125 “high-priority acres” and other education / outreach work.
Funds are scheduled to be available for distribution by New Mexico State Forestry Division shortly after July 1, 2023. Another round of funding is now up for grabs, as well. More information about that can be found on the USDA’s website.
According to the New Mexico Forestry Division, 22 grant applications for the federal funds were received by Forestry Division, totaling over $41 million dollars. To read a full list of the grant programs the federal government is funding, click this link.