WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), and Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) announced a total of $11,482,174 in Infrastructure Law funding to make New Mexico communities more resilient to wildfires and strengthen the federal, state and local response.
The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new Community Wildfire Defense Grant program – a $1 billion new initiative funded under the Infrastructure Law. These funds will help at-risk communities implement plans to protect themselves from wildfires. Activities funded include developing or updating a community’s Wildfire Protection Plan or implementing projects outlined in a community’s existing plan – such as removing overgrown weeds or dead vegetation from around homes, properly marking evacuation routes in preparation for smoky conditions, identifying invasive species that create fire risk like invasive bamboo, or clearing brush from around powerlines.
“After last year’s historic wildfire season, New Mexico’s Congressional Democrats delivered nearly $4 billion in federal resources to help make our communities whole again. But all of our communities need to be prepared for the new reality of drier conditions and increased wildfire risks. These critical projects funded by the Infrastructure Law will help at-risk communities in New Mexico take preventative actions to make our forests more resilient on the front end and protect our homes from future fires,” said Heinrich.
“Last year's devastating wildfire season highlighted the clear need for increased wildfire resilience to help protect our communities,” said Luján. “I was proud to lead the New Mexico delegation in securing nearly $4 billion to help impacted communities recover from last year's historic Hermit's Peak wildfire. But more investments are urgently needed to make New Mexico's communities more resilient against the next wildfire. That’s why I’m glad to welcome over $11 million in funding to help prepare areas that are at risk and strengthen our government's response.”
“As we recover from the intergenerational loss of homes and businesses, beautiful forests, and invaluable memories, we remain vigilant to risks of future wildfires,” said Leger Fernández. “Our promise to seek justice stands. These grants from the USDA are an example of how legislation we passed in Congress protects communities across New Mexico. This funding will support watershed revitalization, fuels management, and firefighting logistics in Taos, Colfax, Sandoval, and Santa Fe counties. Let’s make our forests–and our communities–safer and more resilient.”
“Last year, communities across New Mexico were devastated by wildfires. In the face of this destruction, I was proud to join our federal delegation in securing nearly $4 billion in federal disaster relief for impacted families and funding to invest in forest management and fire prevention,” said Stansbury. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is continuing to deliver for New Mexico and our communities by doing just that—bringing home good-paying jobs to support forest management, prevent wildfires, and rebuild our rural economies while we continue the work to get recovery dollars on the ground and support New Mexico families.”
“After one of the most devastating wildfire seasons in our state’s history this federal funding will provide critical defense for our communities,” said Vasquez. “I will continue to call on the federal government to support wildfire prevention measures and firefighters across the state.”
USDA’s Community Wildfire Defense Grant program has awarded the following funding to New Mexico:
Last year, New Mexico Congressional Democrats passed the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act and secured $3.95 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to better meet the expected costs to fund the provisions of the bill. The lawmakers also secured language in the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Agreement to allow for the repairs and replacement of the water treatment facility in Las Vegas, New Mexico to ensure the community has access to clean drinking water.