The U.S. Forest Service’ 2023 application period is now open for a nationwide program aimed to assist wildland-urban interface communities mitigate catastrophic impacts of wildfire.
The $1 billion Community Wildfire Defense Grant (CWDG) is back for its second year, accepting applications through October 31, 2023. The program was authorized in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and allows up to $250 million annually through Fiscal Year 2027 to reduce risk in the community.
Special districts providing services in communities with high fire risk may apply under certain conditions. Eligible projects must be included in a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) that is less than a decade old or included in a Federal Emergency Management Agency-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan that meets CWPP requirements. Project funding can also be used to develop or revise CWPPs. Eligible projects generally include those that restore and maintain resilient landscapes, adapting communities to fire risks, and improving response to wildfire.
Agencies seeking CWDG funds to develop or update a CWPP must have a 10 percent non-federal cost share. Applications to carryout approved CWPP projects must have a 25 percent non-federal cost share. Cost share waivers are available for underserved communities.
The Forest Service announced in March 2023 that 100 projects totaling $197 million across 22 states were awarded the first round of CWDG funds. Successful programs ranged from transport trailers for prescribed fire programs to constructing fuel breaks around vulnerable communities.
Learn more about the program with live Forest Service-hosted “CWDG Applicant Office Hours.” Registration links are below. Attendees must register in advance to attend the webinars/ “office hours.”
- Wednesday, September 13, 10 a.m. – Noon ET / 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. PT – Register here.
- Wednesday, September 27, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. PT – Register here.
- Wednesday, October 11, 10 a.m. – Noon ET / 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. PT – Register here.
- Wednesday, October 25, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. / 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. PT – Register here.
Access the grant opportunities directly by region on Grants.gov:
- Northeast/Northwest: USDA-FS-2023-CWDG-NEMW (Includes: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin)
- West: USDA-FS-2023-CWDG-CWSF (Includes: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming)
- South: USDA-FS-2023-CWDG-SGSF (Includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia)
SDAO’s special district members seeking assistance with eligible CWDG projects or with other local project funding needs are encouraged to use the NSDC Project Idea Portal for initial guidance and consultation.
The CWDG program is the focus of NSDC advocacy to address community gaps in adequate water infrastructure for firefighting. NSDC joined with the Tahoe Water for Fire Partnership and the Association of California Water Agencies on a April 2023 letter to congressional leadership calling for the expansion of CWDG to include certain water for firefighting needs as eligible planning and prevention projects. NSDC and partner organizations continue to seek legislative solutions to this public policy concern as part of the 2023 Farm Bill reauthorization debate.
Contact Cole Arreola-Karr, NSDC Federal Advocacy Director, for questions at email@example.com.
Federal Efforts for Special Districts – Learn More and Get Involved
Join NSDC Federal Advocacy Director Cole Karr for an interactive session on the importance of the National Special Districts Coalition (NSDC), what you need to know, and how to get involved. Cole will cover with history of the coalition as well as dive into the priorities of the coalition: advocacy, grants, and public awareness. Opportunities for asking questions will also be available during this session.
Date: October 24