Huffman Announces Over $8.5 Million Headed to North Coast for Fire Defense and Resilience

March 31, 2023

San Rafael, CA – Today, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) shared the news that The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $8,602,883 in funds to three projects in California’s Second District through the department’s Community Wildfire Defense Grant program. Rep. Huffman helped secure these funds for his district through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“We are undeniably in a climate crisis – and one of the starkest impacts for folks on the North Coast are the drought-fueled wildfire seasons that have devastated the region year over year. This crisis isn’t going away, so we need to work to get resources out the door to make our communities more resilient for what’s ahead,” said Rep. Huffman. “Thanks to the hard-fought funding Democrats were able to include in the Infrastructure Law, we’re seeing critical investments in wildfire defense and resilience. I’m glad to see some of this funding going to such great projects in my district that will ensure our communities, especially low-income and tribal ones, have the tools they need to protect our region.”

Project Details:

  • Briceland Volunteer Fire Department, Fire Hazard Reduction Project: $205,251 to create a Fire Hazard Reduction Crew, to conduct roadside clearance and improve fuel breaks along otherwise unmaintained roads, creating safer routes for emergency response and evacuation and reducing the chance of roadside ignitions.
  • Mattole Restoration Council, Prosper Ridge Community Wildfire Resilience Project: $2,175,132 to continue work on private lands that connect to the treatment success on the public lands of northern King Range National Conservation Area. Treatments include roadside fuels reduction for safe ingress and egress, grassland restoration, forest health treatments, prescribed fire and cultural burns. The 450 acres of land on private properties include newly acquired Bear River Band ancestral properties, ranch lands, and rural residential homesteads.
  • Resort Improvement District No.1, Shelter Cove Wildfire Resiliency & Community Defense Project: $6,222,500 to provide outreach, coordination & Inspections services and conduct 1,211 acres of Hazardous fuels reduction work over a 5-year period. This project is designed to protect life and property in Shelter Cove by implementing priority actions identified in the 2019 Humboldt County CWPP to reduce wildfire risk, create a fire resilient community, and restore healthy landscapes.

“We have all the ingredients for a major wildfire disaster here in Shelter Cove, but by far the most threatening hazard we face is the large amount of overgrown private parcels adjacent to homes,” said Nick Pape, Shelter Cove Fire Chief. “This funding is a game changer allowing us to create defensible space around every home in the community giving our firefighters the best chance to defend homes!”

“This project will build upon the success of nine years of grassland restoration in the King Range National Conservation Area but will focus on the safety of residents. Lack of periodic fire, both wild and prescribed, have created dense young thickets of encroached Douglas-fir into historic grasslands and a buildup of fuels within forests and residential areas. We are excited to continue treatments that will not only protect our residents but help to build resilience in our grasslands and forests and thereby decrease the risks from wildfire and drought,” said Ali Freedlund, Interim Executive Director of the Mattole Restoration Council.

“The Briceland Volunteer Fire Department covers 40 square miles of densely forested and rugged terrain, with many residents living several miles away from county-maintained roads. Thanks to a generous grant from the USDA, we will be constructing around six miles of shaded fuel break along critical access roads, providing improved emergency access and evacuation routes for hundreds of rural residents. Together with other wildfire defense projects in adjacent districts, we hope to greatly reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in southern Humboldt County,” said Briceland Volunteer Fire Department Public Information Officer Camilo Stevenson.

Funded by President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program helps communities, tribes, non-profit organizations, state forestry agencies and Alaska Native corporations plan for and mitigate wildfire risks as the nation faces an ongoing wildfire crisis. USDA’s Forest Service worked with states and tribes through an interagency workgroup to develop the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program, originally announced in June of 2022. Grant proposals underwent a competitive selection process that included review panels made up of state forestry agencies and tribal representatives.