Colorado Revised Statutes Title 23. Postsecondary Education § 23-31-310. Forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program--technical advisory panel--legislative declaration--definitions--repeal
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(1) Short title. The short title of this section is the “Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Act”.
(1.5) Legislative declaration. The general assembly hereby:
(a) Finds that:
(I) Colorado's forests are fundamentally important to its citizens in providing clean air and water, recreation and tourism opportunities, wildlife habitat, and wood products;
(II) Damaging wildfires occur regularly in Colorado due in part to fire suppression efforts and drought, the result of which are unhealthy, fire-prone forests; and
(III) Colorado has experienced a significant increase in damaging wildfires that have destroyed homes, property, and other essential community infrastructure;
(b) Determines that:
(I) It is critical that we invest in measures that reduce the probability of catastrophic fires spreading uncontrollably into our communities in areas of the wildland-urban interface and reduce the financial costs of wildfire in Colorado;
(II) Increasing our efforts to thin or otherwise manage to improve the forests in Colorado would keep our forests healthy and help mitigate risks associated with catastrophic wildfires that endanger lives, property, watersheds, and critical infrastructure;
(III) Consolidating existing state grant programs will provide the necessary resources to the Colorado state forest service to allow the agency to continue to address watershed wildfire risks and forest health conditions in Colorado; augment its technical capacity to assess and reduce wildfire risk to people, property, and infrastructure; support implementation of community wildfire protection plans; enhance its technical outreach capabilities; and provide loans and grants for market-based forest treatment solutions to reduce wildfire risk, protect watersheds, and improve forest health;
(IV) Maintaining proper funding for a combined grant program will ensure that necessary resources are available to both reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health; and
(V) Given the challenging conditions of Colorado's forests and the imminent risks of catastrophic wildfire, it is critical that state funding of the grants program be increased for the 2019-20 state fiscal year and that grant money be expended on an expedited basis to the greatest extent practicable to fulfill the purposes of this section; and
(c) Declares that it intends to provide aid and guidance for catastrophic wildfire risk mitigation and forest health improvements by authorizing a competitive grant program to assist with funding community-level actions across the entire state that are implemented to protect populations and property in the wildland-urban interface and to promote forest health and the utilization of woody material, including traditional forest products and biomass energy.
(2) Definitions. As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) “Accredited Colorado youth corps” means a youth corps organization that is accredited by the Colorado youth corps association.
(b) “Director” means the director of the forest service.
(d) “Fuel” means living and dead combustible vegetation that can feed a fire, including grass, leaves, pine boughs, shrubs, and trees.
(e) “Hazardous fuel reduction treatment” means a treatment that removes or reduces vegetative fuel, including mechanical, manual, broadcast burning, and pile burning fire treatments, or reduces structural ignitability in order to:
(I) Diminish the potential damage arising from a catastrophic wildfire;
(II) Enhance the ability of emergency personnel to safely influence the spread of wildfire; or
(III) Improve landscape-scale forest health conditions.
(f) “Wildland-urban interface” or “WUI” means an area where:
(I) Human development is close to wildland vegetation; and
(II) There exists a high potential for a wildland fire.
(3) Grant projects. The forest service shall issue a statewide request for proposals for cost-share grants for projects that are designed through a collaborative community process. The projects may be entirely on, or on any combination of, private, state, county, or municipal forest lands. Projects may also be on federal lands, so long as the project maintains continuity across a landscape including federal lands and the area of the federal lands does not exceed the combined area of the nonfederal lands involved in the project. The grant share of an individual project cost must not exceed fifty percent of the total cost of the project. In the case of a project that is located in an area with fewer economic resources, the grant share of an individual project cost must not exceed seventy-five percent of the total cost of the project. The remaining portion of the project's funding may be in the form of cash, stumpage, or in-kind contribution. In meeting the match requirements under this subsection (3), a project may be funded, in whole or in part, from gifts, grants, or donations received from any organization, entity, or individual. In measuring an in-kind contribution for purposes of meeting the fifty percent and twenty-five percent matches required by this subsection (3), “in-kind contribution” may include volunteer hours provided by the staff of an entity or organization applying for grant funding and the time for which staff receives monetary compensation in the form of salary or other financial benefits. Such compensated time that counts toward the in-kind contribution is limited to the estimated time of paid staff in planning and implementing the mitigation project. The forest service shall establish a policy that specifies the criteria by which a particular project will satisfy the requirement of this subsection (3) that it is located in an area with fewer economic resources, as applicable.
(4) Eligibility requirements. To be eligible to receive funding under this section, a project must:
(a) Reduce the risk to people and property in the wildland-urban interface and promote forest health;
(b) Address one or more of the following objectives for the purpose of protecting water supplies:
(I) Reducing the threat of large, high-intensity wildfires and the negative effects of excessive competition between trees by restoring ecosystem functions, structures, and species composition, including the reduction of nonnative species populations;
(II) Preserving old and large trees to the extent consistent with ecological values and science;
(III) Replanting trees in deforested areas if such areas exist in the proposed project area; and
(IV) Improving the use of, or adding value to, small diameter trees;
(c) Comply with all applicable federal and state environmental laws;
(d) Repealed by Laws 2020, Ch. 78 (H.B. 20-1057), § 1, eff. Sept. 14, 2020.
(e) Incorporate current scientific forest restoration information;
(f) Include an assessment to:
(I) Identify both the existing ecological condition of the proposed project area and the desired future condition; and
(II) Report, upon project completion, to the forest service on the number of acres treated, cost per acre to treat, tonnage of material generated, number of jobs created, and use of any forest products generated; and
(g) Leverage state funding through in-kind, stumpage, or cash matching contributions.
(4.3) In addition to satisfying subsection (4) of this section, a grant project that receives funding under this section may also support ongoing maintenance efforts by eligible recipients to reduce the threat of large, high-intensity wildfires.
(4.4) Additional funding objectives. As part of the submission of grant applications under this section, the forest service encourages applicants to include on their grant application information that indicates whether the project is supported by a diverse and balanced group of stakeholders as well as appropriate federal, state, county, and municipal government representatives in the design, implementation, and monitoring of the project.
(4.5) Eligible recipients.Eligible grant recipients include:
(a) Local community groups, including homeowners' associations or neighborhood associations, that are within close proximity to the WUI;
(b) Local government entities within or adjacent to the WUI;
(c) Public or private utilities, including water providers, with infrastructure or land ownership in areas of high risk for catastrophic wildfires;
(d) State agencies, such as the state land board or the division of parks and wildlife, that own lands or property in areas of high risk for catastrophic wildfires;
(e) Nonprofit groups that promote hazardous fuel reduction treatment projects in partnership with local, state, or private entities;
(f) A fire protection district, as defined in section 32-1-103(7); and
(g) A nonprofit organization or entity engaged in firefighting or fire management activities.
(5) Technical advisory panel. The director shall convene a technical advisory panel to evaluate the proposals for forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grants and provide recommendations regarding which proposals would best meet the objectives of this section. The panel shall consider eligibility criteria established in subsections (4) and (4.5) of this section, a project's effect on long-term forest management, and the number of acres treated for state dollars spent and seek to use a consensus-based decision-making process to develop such recommendations. For hazardous fuel reduction projects pursuant to subsection (4)(a) of this section, the panel shall show preference to applicants that have adopted or plan to adopt local measures that reduce wildfire risks to people, property, and infrastructure that complement funds provided through the program. Stronger measures shall receive greater preference, while taking into account geographic differences and needs for mitigation. A panel member shall recuse himself or herself if he or she has an actual or potential conflict of interest with respect to a grant applicant. The panel is composed of members to be appointed by the director. The composition of the panel includes at least:
(a) An official to represent the department of natural resources;
(b) At least one representative from federal land management agencies;
(c) At least one independent scientist with experience in forest ecosystem restoration;
(d) An official to represent the department of public safety;
(e) At least one member who represents a county or municipal government with jurisdiction over an area of the WUI;
(f) At least one member who represents the traditional forest products industry;
(g) At least one member who represents the biomass energy products industry;
(h) At least one member who represents a nonprofit collaborative group involved with the mitigation of catastrophic wildfires in Colorado and the maintenance and improvement of ecological health; and
(i) At least two members with expertise in water and watershed management.
(6) Proposal selection. After consulting with the technical advisory panel established in subsection (5) of this section, the forest service shall select the proposals that will receive funding through this section. In carrying out approved projects, the project proponents shall, whenever feasible, contract with the Colorado youth corps association or an accredited Colorado youth corps to provide labor. The general assembly encourages the forest service to modify its administrative policies and procedures under this section to enable funding to be provided to grant recipients in March to enable wildfire mitigation to commence before the prime wildfire season starts in June.
(7) Repealed by Laws 2012, Ch. 69, § 1, eff. March 24, 2012.
(8) Administrative costs. The forest service may utilize no more than seven percent of any amounts appropriated in any fiscal year for its direct and indirect costs in administering the program.
(8.2) Community watershed restoration and wildfire risk mitigation. (a) In order to support communities and land managers in efforts to reduce risk to people and property and in support of long-term ecological restoration so that the underlying condition of Colorado's forests supports a variety of values, particularly public water supply and high-quality wildlife habitat, the forest service shall:
(I) Hire additional field capacity to support the implementation of forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation program grants awarded pursuant to this section;
(II) In awarding grants pursuant to this section, give additional emphasis to projects that substantially leverage additional financial resources or that have been identified through a community-based collaborative process.
(b)(I) The forest service may use the unencumbered balance of the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program cash fund created in subsection (8.5) of this section for the purpose of complying with this subsection (8.2).
(II) This subsection (8.2)(b) is repealed, effective September 1, 2028.
(8.3) Grant program. (a) The forest service shall develop and administer the program in consultation with the technical advisory panel created in subsection (5) of this section. In developing the program, the forest service shall:
(I) Dedicate up to twenty-five percent of the money available in the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program cash fund, created in subsection (8.5) of this section, to fund capacity-building efforts to provide local governments, community groups, and collaborative forestry groups with the resources and staffing necessary to plan and implement forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation projects, including community and partner outreach and engagement, identifying priority project areas, prescription planning, and acquiring community equipment for use by landowners;
(II) Dedicate up to five percent of the money available in the fund to be used by the forest service to:
(A) Monitor grant recipients' compliance with the grant program; and
(B) Measure the grant program's effectiveness;
(III) Require a grant applicant to demonstrate that:
(A) The grant applicant has available, or will have available before implementation of the project, matching funds in the form of a dollar-for-dollar match or the value of in-kind contributions for the project. A project's matching funds may come from federal sources or state sources, but no more than fifty percent of the matching funds may come from state sources; except that, if the grant applicant is a state agency, more than fifty percent of the matching funds may come from other state sources.
(B) The proposed project includes a plan for utilizing any woody material generated by the project, including traditional forest products and biomass energy products. The forest service shall offer technical support to grant applicants to assist with the development of the applicant's plan for utilizing forest products. The forest service shall inform applicants of the availability of its technical support.
(IV) Encourage a grant applicant, where feasible, to utilize the labor of:
(A) Youth and young adults participating in a Colorado youth corps organization accredited by the Colorado youth corps association; or
(B) Veterans participating in an accredited Colorado corps program serving veterans;
(V) In consultation with the technical advisory panel created in subsection (5) of this section, establish the information to be included in the grant application, including a description of the proposed project; and
(VI) Establish a plan for administering the grant program, including the development of:
(A) Periodic reporting requirements;
(B) Tools for monitoring and tracking grant projects; and
(C) Measures for assessing the progress of grant projects.
(b) Annually and in a final report to be presented before the end of the regular session in 2018, the forest service shall report to the agriculture, livestock, and natural resources committee in the Colorado house of representatives and the agriculture, natural resources, and energy committee in the Colorado senate, or their successor committees, regarding the progress of the grant program, including information concerning the:
(I) Number of acres treated;
(II) Cost per acre to treat;
(III) Tonnage of material generated;
(IV) Number of jobs created;
(V) Use of any forest products generated; and
(VI) The grant program's ability to achieve its stated goals.
(c) On and after the repeal of part 4 of article 7 of title 36, the forest service shall administer pursuant to this section all grants made pursuant to that part 4 before its repeal.
(8.5) Forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program cash fund.(a) There is hereby created in the state treasury the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program cash fund. The department of higher education shall administer the fund, which consists of:
(I) All money transferred by the treasurer as specified in subsection (8.7) of this section;
(II) All money that was in the wildfire risk reduction fund created in section 36-7-405 prior to the repeal of that fund. As soon as possible after December 31, 2017, the state treasurer shall transfer the unencumbered fund balance of the wildfire risk reduction fund as of month-end close on December 31, 2017, to the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program cash fund.
(III) Any other money appropriated or transferred to the fund by the general assembly.
(b) All money in the fund is continuously appropriated to the department of higher education for allocation to the board of governors of the Colorado state university system for the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program specified in this section. All money in the fund at the end of each fiscal year remains in the fund and does not revert to the general fund or any other fund. The state treasurer shall credit all interest and income derived from the deposit and investment of money in the fund to the fund.
(8.7)(a) On July 1, 2017, and July 1, 2018, the state treasurer shall transfer nine hundred fifty-four thousand five hundred forty-five dollars from the general fund to the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program cash fund.
(b) On March 21, 2021, the state treasurer shall transfer six million dollars from the general fund to the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program cash fund.
(8.8) It is the intent of the general assembly that any additional amount of money appropriated for the 2019-20 state fiscal year to the fund created in subsection (8.5)(a) of this section be expended on grants that will support the maximum number of effective forest management fuels reduction projects to reduce the impacts to life, property, and critical infrastructure caused by wildfire.
(9) Repeal. This section is repealed, effective September 1, 2029.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Colorado Revised Statutes Title 23. Postsecondary Education § 23-31-310. Forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program--technical advisory panel--legislative declaration--definitions--repeal - last updated January 01, 2022 | https://codes.findlaw.com/co/title-23-postsecondary-education/co-rev-st-sect-23-31-310/
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