Vice President Kamala Harris and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the San Bernardino National Forest on Jan. 21 and announced government funding that is designed to help communities recover from wildfires and hurricanes.
Harris and Vilsack said that $1.36 billion in disaster relief funds will be provided to the USDA Forest Service to support post-disaster recovery and restoration in states across the country, including nearly $600 million for recovery efforts in California following the devastating 2020 and 2021 fire years, the United States Department of Agriculture said in a news release.
The Forest Service will utilize these recovery dollars for hazardous material cleanup, reforestation, watershed restoration, and infrastructure repair including for trails, roads, bridges and facilities. The funding will target communities and tribes hardest hit by wildfires to mitigate impacts, address hazards, and support plans for recovery. Additional projects will focus on reforestation and restoration, including to collect cones and seeds, increase tree nursery production, and provide tree seedlings and technical assistance to landowners, tribes, and communities to restore burned areas. Projects will also support communities recovering from hurricanes, including in the South and Southeast.
“States are experiencing more frequent and intense wildfires that pose a serious threat to communities, property and lives, as well as natural treasures like our forests,â Vilsack said. âHurricanes and other extreme weather events are also impacting growing numbers of people and communities. By funding projects like hazardous material cleanup, infrastructure repair, reforestation and more, these dollars will make an important difference when and where they are needed most.”
Harris, making a return to her home state, praised firefighters for their efforts and discussed the importance of addressing climate change during the event.
Also attending the event were U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gov. Gavin Newsom, Congressman Pete Aguilar (D-CA), and several federal, state, and local leaders.