The National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) is a $1 billion program being administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The NDRC is designed to provide grants to communities to rebuild in a more resilient way following a major disaster. Through the NDRC, California applied to fund a forest restoration and community engagement effort known as the Community and Watershed Resilience Program (CWRP), which is designed to address unmet recovery needs in the Rim Fire footprint and support community protection and resilience.
A Community in Peril
The 2013 Rim Fire burned more than 257,000 acres, which devastated the landscape and local communities. It resulted in significant impacts to the local ranching community, threatened our water supply, disrupted the lives of thousands of people, and damaged air quality. Initial estimates indicate that the Rim Fire released 11 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses (GHGs), or roughly equivalent to the annual GHG emissions from 2.3 million cars.
The Rim Fire emitted in a matter of weeks, more than San Francisco emitted in an entire year.
California Forests and Fires
Wildfires are an integral part of Sierra forests. However, in recent years the fires burning the most acres in the Sierra have been burning outside their historic norms and have become increasingly intense, putting forests and communities at serious risk.
Community and Watershed Resilience Program (CWRP)
The Community and Watershed Resilience Program (CWRP)is a $70 million project that is a collaborative effort made up of local, state, and federal partners, including Tuolumne County, California Department of Housing and Community Development, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, California Environmental Protection Agency, Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, U.S. Forest Service, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The CWRP is designed to address unmet recovery needs in the Rim Fire footprint, while also supporting community protection and resilience. This will serve as a model for communities to proactively plan and think about resilience in preparation for a future with increasingly severe wildfires.
The CWRP consists of three separate, but integrated pillars:
- Forest and Watershed Health Program
- Biomass Utilization Facility
- Community Resilience Center(s)
Pillar 1: Forest and Watershed Health Program (FWHP)
Project Lead: Sierra Nevada Conservancy
Approximate funding: $28 million
The Forest and Watershed Health Program, a collaborative effort between the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service, and CAL FIRE will restore and protect the health of one of California’s most vital watersheds by:
- Removing dead material from forests on up to 4,600 acres that act as fuel for the next fire
- Controlling and minimizing the spread of noxious weeds on 3,500 acres
- Rebuilding rangeland infrastructure, such as fencing and wildlife-friendly troughs
- Facilitating reforestation and preventing forest-to-shrubland conversion on 4,500 acres
- Creating and enhancing strategic fuel breaks to reduce future fire risk on up to 1,995 acres
In 2019, the U.S. Forest Service awarded fuels reduction and reforestation site preparation contracts on 4,303.6 acres in the Rim Fire footprint using FWHP funds. Other 2018 projects include constructing nearly 15 miles of range fences and controlling the spread of noxious weeds through prescribed fire on approximately 1,400 acres.
Pillar 2: Biomass Utilization Facility (BUF)
Project Lead: Sierra Nevada Conservancy
Approximate funding: $22 million
The Biomass Utilization Fund, an effort led by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and administered by the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), will provide loans to businesses located in, or locating to, Tuolumne County that increase the utilization of low-no value wood from the surrounding forests.
The program aims to create employment opportunities in Tuolumne County and provide alternatives to pile burning wood waste. To learn more about the BUF or to apply for financing, please contact RCAC.
Pillar 3: Community Resilience Center(s) (CRC)
Project Lead: Tuolumne County
Approximate funding: $20 million
The Community Resilience Center(s), led by Tuolumne County, will provide shelter and necessary resources in the event of a disaster and will support community services, educational programs, and job training. The center will be located within the Rim Fire footprint.
Extensive stakeholder outreach is currently underway to solicit public input on the design, services, and location of the CRC.
Please email Elliott Vander Kolk if you would like to obtain the following documents:
- Biomass Utilization Facility Feedstock Supply Study
- Biomass Utilization Facility Feasibility Study