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White House announces $1.36 billion for wildfire recovery

The Biden administration will spend $1.36 billion on wildfire recovery, including $600 million in California, said Vice President Kamala Harris during a visit to a fire station in San Bernardino, 50 miles east of Los Angeles. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who joined Harris for the announcement, said the USDA would put more than $48 million into projects to reduce the risk of wildfires where federal forests and grasslands meet privately owned land in the West.

Harris said “the climate crisis has almost everything to do with what we are seeing in terms of the crisis of wildfires,” and that “the best way to fight — we believe — is to focus not only on reaction, but on prevention.”

The $48 million, to be spread across 41 projects, was built around a Forest Service strategy, announced last week, to thin forests, prune trees, conduct prescribed burns and create fire breaks on large tracks to mitigate the chance of catastrophic wildfires. The money will come from a partnership between the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“Wildfires have no boundaries, and neither should our efforts to reduce wildfire risk and enhance the resilience of our forests, communities, water supplies and working lands,” said Vilsack.

An estimated 7.6 million acres (12,000 square miles) burned in wildfires last year, including the Dixie fire, which consumed 960,000 acres in Northern California and was the first fire known to cross the crest of the Sierra Nevada.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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