Montana Forest Action Plan Grants work to help mitigate wildfire risk

Wildfire in Montana
Posted at 5:16 PM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-19 19:16:42-04

HELENA — The Montana DNRC is releasing a second round of the Montana Forest Action Plan Grants. These grants fund projects that work to reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health.

“In Montana, we are facing significant wildfire risk and forest health issues across the state on all land ownerships. And so, opportunities like this are imperative to allow local groups, organizations, collaboratives to take some of the responsibility and ownership of this problem and start solving it at a local scale with solutions that they've been able to participate in,” says Acting Deputy Forestry Division Administrator for Montana DNRC, Wyatt Frampton.

Due to an excess of money in the State’s Fire Suppression fund, the Montana DNRC was able to offer these grants for the first time in the winter of 2020. The state is now opening up a second round of funding for grants between $100,000 and $500,000. These grants are meant to reimburse projects that work to improve forest and wildland health and reduce wildfire risk. Successful projects often involve multiple collaborating partners working across boundaries.

“And one of the priority landscapes that was identified included the South Hills of Helena area, which is just behind me. For a wildlife, wildfire hazard protection there's a high risk here. We're right on the edge of the City of Helena city limits. And we have some very dense forest conditions,” says Good Neighbor Authority Forester with Montana DNRC, Gary Ellingson.

Ellingson is helping to facilitate a project in the South Hills of Helena. A grant was given during the first round of funding to reduce wildfire risk in about 200 acres of this priority landscape. Their project passes over private land, BLM land, and US Forest Service land and works to mitigate wildfire risk.

“If left untreated, you know, we would expect, due to the heavy fuel loading in these areas we're planning to treat, you know, there's a high potential for intense, you know, wildfire behavior. And so, and we're right up against the city limits,” says Ellingson.

The deadline to apply is November 6th.