Even with the moisture we received from this past winters near-record snow totals, the Northland is poised to battle the annual spring and summer wildfire season. One thing that will help this year is the federal funding local officials received to help reduce potential risks.

St. Louis County recently received $890,925 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. Local officials had submitted their plans they had created to both identify potential wildfire risks in the Northland and then help to mitigate them.

In order to get the funds, St. Louis County officials had to submit their proposal to the federal officials. Our area was one of 100 projects that were selected to be funded, receiving "a portion of the $197 million" that was available through the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program. That program is "funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law".

With the nearly $900,000 in place, St. Louis County officials look to broaden the scope of their well-established Firewise Program. That program "assists private property owners whose land is adjacent to federal land....help[ing] them reduce wildfire risk on their property".

Firefighters spray water to wildfire

County officials are especially looking forward to being able to expand the prevention program that has been working successfully for them. St. Louis County Sheriff Gordon Ramsay offers:

"We are thankful and excited to receive this funding.  We've seen the positive results from Firewise, and so to be able to expand where we can offer these services will make a big difference."

In the past, St. Louis County has partnered with Dovetail Partners to coordinate the program - a relationship they expect to continue.

Here's What St. Louis County Will Do With The Money

County officials share that they'll distribute the federal funding, helping to assist local fire departments, lake, road associations, and township government boards - using a survey to spotlight areas with the highest risks. The money will help St. Louis County "increase wildfire awareness, reduce fuels, and provide opportunities to help....[those] communities be more wildfire resilient".

As the county prepares their plan, they'll make more information available to both the local government entities and the general public.

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The Greenwood Fire, discovered around 3 pm on Sunday, August 13 just southwest of Isabella, grew aggressively from a few hundred acres to a massive, raging wildfire in a matter of days.

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