WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2022 – Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced $20.5 million in grants to help states or federally recognized tribes establish temporary bridge programs to protect water resources during forest-related operations and to assist wood processing facility owners to establish, reopen, retrofit, or expand. The grants are focused on sawmills or other wood processing facilities that purchase and process byproducts from forest restoration activities in areas of severe fire risk and insect or disease infestation.
The funds, made available by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, support the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts to ensure tribes and historically marginalized or underserved communities receive equal access and opportunities to funding and programs, and to support community efforts vital to forest health. This funding opportunity also follows through on President Biden’s Executive Order directing USDA to scale up rural economic development and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s direction to the Forest Service to find new ways to use byproducts from landscape improvement and wildfire mitigation projects to enhance carbon sequestration while creating jobs and economic opportunities.
“We are working to increase economic opportunities for rural and tribal communities adjacent to national forests and grasslands,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “Our tribal, state and wood processing partners are working in the woods every day to improve forest health and protect water resources. Today’s investments will expand these opportunities and provide much needed financial resources to restore and conserve our forests.”
The $20.5 million being committing in fiscal year 2022 includes:
- $12.5 million targeted as financial assistance for owners of facilities that purchase and process byproducts from forest restoration projects including thinning, wildfire resilience activities and habitat management. Owners must identify how their work will use byproducts from areas of high or very high risk of severe wildfire or insect and disease infestation based on the high priority firesheds identified in the Forest Service 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy or by using the Wildfire Risk to Communities and National Insect and Disease Risk maps.
- $8 million is available to states and tribes to support the establishment of temporary bridge rental, loan or cost-share programs to protect water resources and reduce water quality degradation during forest-related operations. The funding is to help states and tribes create a program that provides portable skidder bridges, bridge mats or other temporary water crossing structures to loggers and others working in forests areas. These bridges will minimize damage from trucks and other equipment in forested areas, especially sensitive wetlands.
As an example, in 2022, the San Carlos Apache Tribe was awarded $1 million as part of the Forest Service Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovations grant program to purchase a lumber dry kiln and planing mill. The funding will help the Tribe improve forest management while providing significant employment opportunities for tribal members.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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