Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program Accepting Applications

by | September 20, 2023

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is again accepting applications for the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program. Now in its second year, this competitive program is designed to assist at-risk communities, including tribal communities, non-profit organizations, state forestry agencies and Alaska Native Corporations, with planning for and mitigating wildfire risks. Applications will be accepted until 11:59 pm Eastern Time Oct. 31, 2023.

This announcement comes after $197 million was awarded to 99 project proposals across 22 states and seven tribes during the first year of funding. The projects directly support the USFS 10-year strategy to treat up to 20 million acres of national forests and grasslands and 30 million acres of other federal, state, tribal and private lands to reduce wildfire risk to communities, infrastructure and natural resources. This year’s program has $250 million available for awards.

This grant is an excellent opportunity for at-risk communities to plan for and reduce their risk of wildfire.

The program, which was authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, prioritizes at-risk communities in an area identified as having high or very high wildfire hazard potential, are low-income, or have been impacted by a severe disaster that affects the risk of wildfire. More details on these three priorities can be found in the Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs) at (USDA-FS-2023-CWDG-TRIBES, USDA-FS-2023-CWDG-CWSF, USDA-FS-2023-CWDG-NEMW, USDA-FS-2023-CWDG-SGSF).

Here’s what you need to know about this grant program and whether it’s right for your agency and community.

What Activities Are Eligible?

The Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program provides funding to communities for two primary purposes:

Who Can Apply?

Entities eligible to apply for funding under the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program include:

  • Units of local governments representing communities located in an area with a risk of wildfires
  • Indian tribes (apply through either the Indian Tribes/Alaska Native Corporations specific notice or the applicable regional notice)
  • Non-profit organizations including homeowner associations that assist such communities
  • State forestry agencies (including U.S. territories and interests)
  • Alaska Native Corporations (apply through either the Indian Tribes/Alaska Native Corporations specific notice or the applicable regional notice)

Remember, you must have a current active SAM registration to apply for this grant.

Match Requirements

This grant program does have match requirements. There is a 10% nonfederal match for proposals to develop or update a Community Wildfire Protection Plan. For grants proposals to implement projects described within a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, there is a 25% nonfederal match. You may request a match waiver if your community meets underserved status requirements.

Don’t Miss It!

In many communities across the United States, wildland fires are increasing in number and severity. Most fire departments and local governments struggle to meet the need for adequate fire protection and response. Opportunities like the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program are key to building community preparedness and, ultimately, saving lives. This grant is an excellent opportunity for at-risk communities to plan for and reduce their risk of wildfire. If your coverage area falls into this category, don’t pass up this opportunity.

Need help with your grant proposal? Lexipol’s FireGrantsHelp team can help you prepare a compelling narrative and ensure your application gives you the best chance to receive funding. Contact us today to learn more!

Additional Resources

  • CWDG Dashboard – Enter your community, county or tribal area to view eligibility criteria, whether your community is considered at risk, whether you can apply of a cost-share waiver and more.
  • CDWG Virtual Office Hours – Register to attend informational sessions on September 27, October 11 or October 25 where you can ask questions about the process, including the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and the application.

Jerry Brant is a senior grant consultant and grant writer with FireGrantsHelp and EMSGrantsHelp. He has 46 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter in west-central Pennsylvania. He is a life member of the Hope Fire Company of Northern Cambria, where he served as chief for 15 years. He is an active member and safety officer of the Patton Fire Company 1. In 2003, he was awarded a James A Johnson Fellowship by the FannieMae Foundation for his accomplishments in community development. In 2019, he was honored with the Leroy C Focht Sr. Memorial Award from the Central District Volunteer Fireman's Association. He has successfully written more than $70 million in grant applications.

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