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The Colorado State Forest Service is calling on residents to apply for a fire mitigation grant

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO)--The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) is now accepting applications for the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation (FRWRM) Grant Program.

Community groups, homeowner associations, utilities, and non-profit organizations are just some of the groups eligible to apply for grants from the $15 million funding pool. The grant money will help fund efforts to reduce fuel loads, mitigate wildfire risk and improve Colorado's forests.

CSFS officials said this grant is really important, especially for Colorado Springs residents. He said many people could benefit from applying for this grant.

"I mean, our forests and watersheds are key to life here in Colorado. Again, it's where our water comes from. It's where power is transmitted through," said Weston Toll, Interim Manager of Program Delivery with the Colorado State Forest Service.

Toll said that the population growth in Colorado Springs has been increasing over the years.

"You know, another thing we keep in mind is that many areas of the front range, obviously, including Colorado Springs, where we're expecting increased population over the next 50 years, we've got climate change to deal with. And so this problem's really not going to be going away. And so we need to be thinking ahead about, again, treating the right acres under the right circumstances so that we can have the greatest effects with an eye towards future conditions and more and more people moving into that wildland-urban interface," said Toll

However, there is a fund-matching component of the grant awards. The state can fund up to 50 or 75 percent of the cost of each awarded project. Also, grant recipients are required to match at least 50 or 25 percent of the total project cost. The required matching amount depends on whether the project location falls within an area of "fewer economic resources," as identified in the Colorado Forest Atlas.

Toll said the state has federal grants that they distribute. Also, other counties have taxes that pay for mitigation efforts. However, he said the idea behind this grant is to have people take ownership of fire prevention efforts.

Toll said wildfire prevention efforts are always going to be ongoing.

"We have to continue to do that because we do have people's lives that are intertwined, intertwined with the wildland-urban interface and our water supply and all that kind of stuff, said Toll.

According to CSFS, applicants must coordinate proposed projects with county officials to ensure consistency with county-level wildfire risk reduction planning. There will also be Follow-up monitoring to make sure to assess the effectiveness of the project.

Officials with CSFS encourage Coloradans to work with their neighbors and friends to put in an application.

CSFS told KRDO that an advisory panel with CSFS will review project applications and make funding recommendations. Funding will be awarded by March 31, 2023.

Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m., Oct. 19, 2022, and applicants can request help from their local CSFS Field Office

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Colorado Springs
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Barbara Fox

Barbara is a reporter based out of Pueblo for KRDO

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