Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced $1.36 billion in disaster relief funds for the USDA Forest Service to support post-disaster recovery and restoration in states across the country, including nearly $600 million for recovery efforts in California following the devastating 2020 and 2021 fire years.
The funding was announced during a visit to the San Bernardino National Forest in California.
The Forest Service will utilize these recovery dollars for hazardous material cleanup, reforestation, watershed restoration, and infrastructure repair including for trails, roads, bridges and facilities. The funding will target communities and Tribes hardest hit by wildfires to mitigate impacts, address hazards, and support plans for recovery.
Additional projects will focus on reforestation and restoration, including to collect cones and seeds, increase tree nursery production, and provide tree seedlings and technical assistance to landowners, Tribes, and communities to restore burned areas. Projects will also support communities recovering from hurricanes, including in the South and Southeast.
"States are experiencing more frequent and intense wildfires that pose a serious threat to communities, property and lives, as well as natural treasures like our forests," said Secretary Vilsack. "Hurricanes and other extreme weather events are also impacting growing numbers of people and communities. By funding projects like hazardous material cleanup, infrastructure repair, reforestation and more, these dollars will make an important difference when and where they are needed most."
This year, Forest Service and NRCS will invest in 41 projects, including 17 new projects, bringing together agricultural producers, forest landowners, and national forests and grasslands to improve forest health using available Farm Bill conservation programs and other authorities.