Police & Fire

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service secures Community Wildfire Defense Grants for Northern and Downeast Maine

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service has been awarded two Community Wildfire Defense Grants to support at-risk communities in Northern and Downeast Maine. These grants, totaling $258,000 ($141,000 and $117,000 respectively), will safeguard homes, businesses, forestland, and infrastructure from catastrophic wildfires. Both regions face significant wildfire risks and are considered underserved.

Federal funding will facilitate the creation of Community Wildfire Protection Plans over five years. Last fall, the USDA Forest Service received 535 applications, awarding grants to only 158 communities nationwide. Maine is New England’s first and only state to receive these highly competitive CWDG awards.

MFS will lead the development of CWPPs, coordinate data collection, and engage stakeholders and the public. These plans will evaluate wildfire risks, inventory access routes, utility corridors, and other critical assets and foster collaboration between local governments, fire departments, state agencies, the Maine Land Use Planning Commission, and other key stakeholders.

“Earning these federal grants is a significant accomplishment for our Maine Forest Service. Given the competitive nature of these grants, typically awarded to western states, we are incredibly proud that Maine is the first New England state to be awarded these funds,” said Amanda Beal, DACF commissioner.

“As the most heavily forested state with a history of rural wildfires, it is crucial to prioritize wildfire risk mitigation. This federal funding will enhance our efforts to protect communities and ensure their safety from wildfires,” said Patty Cormier, MFS director.

“We are thrilled to receive the CWDG grants and are eager to collaborate with County Emergency Management Agency directors, Fire Chiefs, and large forest landowners to mitigate wildfire risks and bolster the resilience of our forests,” said Robby Gross, chief forest ranger.

The Northern Maine/Katahdin Region grant encompasses Millinocket, East Millinocket, Medway, and several adjacent unorganized territories. This project area borders the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and is near Baxter State Park, home to Maine’s highest peaks. The Downeast Maine grant includes the towns of Whiting and Dennysville and four unorganized territories in Southeast Washington County.

Communities interested in applying for the next round of CWDG grants, which is expected to be available later in 2024, should contact Forest Ranger Specialist Kent Nelson at 207-287-4989 or kent.nelson@maine.gov.

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