By Dillon Thomas

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado will receive $18 million in federal aid to mitigate future wildfires. As part of the recently passed infrastructure bill $131 million will be dispersed across eight states with significant fire risks.

Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited Colorado, announcing the financial allocation while standing in the middle of the Calwood Fire burn scar in Boulder County.

She was joined by Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, as well as Rep. Neguse to help make the announcement.

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“It is clear that fire seasons no longer exists here in Colorado, we have fire years. And the drought underscores that,” Neguse said.

U.S. Forest Service staff were at the announcement, some saying that previous mitigation done in Colorado helped prevent historic blazes like the Cameron Peak and Calwood fires from being double the sizes they could’ve been. However, more is still needed to be done.

“We’ve got a significant problem here across the west,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore.

“At this point there is no margin for error,” Haaland said.

Moore said the $18 million allocated to Colorado in 2022 will be just the first of multiple federal gifts for Colorado to mitigate fire risk.

“This will reduce the trajectory of wildfire risk,” Haaland said.

(credit: CBS)

“For a long time we have known what to do, but haven’t had the ability to do it at the scale that made a difference,” Moore said.

Senator Bennet in-part joked that one of the main reasons the rest of Congress approved the funds for Colorado was due to Washington D.C. experiencing poor air quality in 2020 due to the Cameron Peak, East Troublesome and Calwood fires.

Hickenlooper, Bennet and Neguse celebrated the funds, which will be used to work on 10,000 acres in Colorado in 2022.

“With the reforestation efforts we have here in Boulder County, we know that it will pay dividens here in the future. It is why the investments in the bipartisan infrastructure law were so important,” Neguse said. “There is a lot left for us to do, but, I am grateful for the investments made thus far.”

Dillon Thomas