February 2022
DNR’s COSWAP now has four opportunities to apply for the Workforce Development grant. COSWAP Strategic Focus Areas include the RMRI focal areas. Chaffee County’s ‘Chaffee Common Ground’ Citizens Advisory Committee opened its grant cycle. Matt McCombs is the new State Forester, and he’s answered your questions. Plus, the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region will receive approximately $85 million to recover and restore lands impacted by 2020 and 2021 wildfires.
DNR extends COSWAP Workforce Development grant RMRI
Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the release of the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP) Workforce Development Grant. COSWAP is a wildfire mitigation funding program designed to protect life, property and infrastructure and this release of funding is specifically targeted to support workforce development throughout the state. COSWAP Strategic Focus Areas include the RMRI focal areas. 

Chaffee Common Ground Spring 2022 grant cycle now open RMRI-Upper Arkansas
Chaffee County’s ‘Chaffee Common Ground’ Citizens Advisory Committee opened its grant cycle on Feb. 7, 2022. The pre-application deadline is Feb. 25 and the deadline for full applications is March 25. Approximately $800,000 will be available during this grant cycle for programs and projects that strengthen forest health and reduce wildfire danger; conserve and support agricultural lands and rural landscapes; and manage the impacts of growth in outdoor recreation. Visit the Grantee Info page for guidelines and application links.

Spotlighting Success RMRI-Upper Arkansas
Congrats to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Fire Management Officer John Markalunas for his work with the Colorado State Forest Service and the Salida Field Office for over 15 years. Markalunas is a member of the Envision Forest Health Council, whose 35 members lead implementation of the 2020 Chaffee County Community Wildfire Protection Plan. the Year.

Q&A with Matt McCombs, Colorado’s new State Forester
Matt McCombs is CSFS new State Forester. He had been the district ranger for the Gunnison National Forest for more than four years.

USDA Forest Service receives funding in Rocky Mountain Region to recover from 2020 and 2021 wildfires
USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region will receive approximately $85 million to recover and restore national forests, watersheds, and communities impacted by 2020 and 2021 wildfires. Approximately $85 million in disaster funding will be allocated to national forests and grasslands in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming, with the majority going to Colorado and Wyoming.

NWTF’s Conservation Efforts and Involvement Opportunities
The Archery Trade Association explains how the National Wild Turkey Federation's national conservation efforts are categorized into 3 sections: (1) Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative, (2) White Oak Initiative, and (3) Initiatives NWTF regularly assists like Longleaf Pine Initiative. More…

Dispersed camping out of control in Chaffee County; officials seek solutions
A surge in recreational camping around Buena Vista and Salida is wreaking havoc on natural areas and spurring public lands managers to mull the closure of dozens of dispersed campsites. “Almost as soon as we started looking into the state of recreation here, we started hearing a lot of concern that the quality of outdoor experiences is rapidly declining,” said Cindy Williams, an RMRI Partner and the co-chair of Envision Chaffee County. Outdoor recreation accounts for a third of Chaffee County’s economy. More…

Gov. Polis, Western Governors Association form task force on collaborative conservation with USDA, Interior
Governor Jared Polis, in his capacity as Vice-Chair of the Western Governors Association, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Interior to establish a new Task Force on Collaborative Conservation focused on local, state, and federal collaboration for the West. More…

What’s next for the Civilian Climate Corps?
With the fate of the $1.7 trillion climate and social spending package now uncertain, some top appropriators have said they will fight to keep House-passed appropriations for the Civilian Climate Corps in the annual government funding bill. The path for such an effort, however, is unclear. More…

Colorado leaders support outdoor recreation industry with future of Outdoor Retailer trade show
Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper expressed their support for announcements from outdoor industry leaders reiterating that Denver remains the natural home of future Outdoor Retailer Trade shows. BACKGROUND: The Conservation Alliance, comprised of more than 270 companies, said in a news release that Emerald X, the publicly traded company that owns Outdoor Retailer, is considering moving the show despite widespread industry objections. The outdoors industry took a stand after Utah lawmakers asked President Donald Trump in February 2017 to repeal the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument. Thirty outdoor companies objected, and the Outdoor Retailer show announced it would move from its longtime home in Salt Lake City to Denver. More…

No Subcommittee updates at this time.
Feb. 25: RMRI Workforce Capacity Subcommittee Meeting
RMRI invites you to the next RMRI Workforce Meeting via Zoom Feb. 25, from 1-3 p.m. Request to join the meeting at restoretherockies@gmail.com. Past meeting summaries and more at https://restoringtherockies.org/workforce-capacity-subcommittee

POSTPONED: Cross-Boundary Landscape Restoration Workshop
All-lands forest and fire management in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and surrounding states hosted at Colorado State University. Originally scheduled for March 7-10. More…

March 8: RMRI Social License Subcommittee Meeting
RMRI invites you to the next RMRI Social License Subcommittee via Zoom March 8, from 10 a.m.-noon. Request to join the meeting at restoretherockies@gmail.com. Past meeting summaries and more at https://restoringtherockies.org/social-license-subcommittee.  

March 24-25: Before the Fire Summit
RMRI Partner Club 20 hosts the "Before the Fire: Protecting the WaterTowers of the West watershed" summit in Grand Junction, Colorado. For more on room blocks and venue location, visit: www.club20.org.  
These are summaries of 14 wildfire-related bills that have been introduced in Congress, courtesy of Wildfire Today.

H.R. 5631 — Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Classification and Pay Parity Act
This bill has numerous provisions, including raising firefighter pay, creating a wildland firefighter job series, providing health care and mental health services to temporary and permanent wildland firefighters, housing stipends, and other items.
H.R.5010 — FIRE Act
This bill directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in collaboration with the U.S. weather industry and academic partners, to establish a program within NOAA to improve wildfire forecasting and detection.
H.R.2585 — FIRE Act of 2021
Timber salvage sales. No later than 60 days after a wildfire is contained on such lands (1) the Forest Service, to the maximum extent practicable, shall complete a survey of the lands that were impacted by such wildfire; and (2) the Department of Agriculture (USDA) shall convert the timber sales applicable to such lands that were impacted by such wildfire to salvage sales.
S.3092 — FIRE Act
The bill would, according to Senator Padilla, update the Stafford Act that governs FEMA—which was written when the agency primarily focused on hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods—to improve FEMA’s response to wildfires, including by accounting for “melted infrastructure” and burned trees as well as allowing FEMA to pre-deploy assets during times of highest wildfire risk and red flag warnings.
S.1734 — National Prescribed Fire Act of 2021. May 20, 2021.
The bill would appropriate $300 million each to the Departments of the Interior (DOI) and Agriculture (DOA) to increase the pace and scale of controlled burns on state, county, and federally managed lands. It sets an annual target of at least one million acres treated with prescribed fire by federal agencies, but not to exceed 20 million.
S.138 — Wildland Firefighter Pay Act
It would raise the maximum limit on overtime pay for federal firefighters.
S.1116 — Federal Firefighters Fairness Act of 2021
Establishes for federal workers certain medical conditions as presumptive illnesses.
H.R.6336 — Western Wildfire Support Act of 2021
Establishes a program to train and certify citizens who wish to be able to volunteer to assist USDA or Interior during a wildland fire incident, and a program to award grants to eligible states or units of local government to acquire slip-on tank and pump units for a surge capacity of resources for fire suppression.
S.2419 — Wildfire Smoke Emergency Declaration Act of 2021
This bill authorizes the President to declare a smoke emergency and provide emergency assistance to affected communities under specified circumstances.
S.2661 — Smoke-Ready Communities Act of 2021
Provides funding for infrastructure upgrades to public buildings to filter out wildfire smoke. It would also assist with local efforts to provide health information about wildfire smoke.
S.2421 — Smoke Planning and Research Act.
It would make available each year $80 million to fund research on the public health impacts of wildfire smoke and create a grant program for local community planning relating to wildfire smoke.
H.R.4614 — Resilient Federal Forests Act
Primarily related to the logging industry, it streamlines or avoids compliance with some requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act by establishing numerous categorical exclusions for projects on National Forest System and public lands.
S.487 — 21st Century Conservation Corps Act
The bill would provide funds to support a natural resource management and conservation workforce and bolster wildfire prevention and preparedness. Establishes a $9 billion fund for qualified land and conservation corps to increase job training and hiring specifically for jobs in the woods, helping to restore public lands and provide jobs in a time of need.
S.2650 — Wildfire Resilient Communities Act
Sets aside $30 billion for the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to boost catastrophic wildfire reduction projects.
If you would like your work highlighted in this monthly email update, submit to RMRI communication manager, Nathan Van Schaik, at nathaniel.vanschaik@usda.gov. Or, to discuss any communications issues or concerns, contact Nathan via email or at (720) 584-6571.
Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative