CO Strategic Wildfire Action Program

Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program

The Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP) was created after the devastating 2020 fire season by the Colorado legislature through the bi-partisan supported SB21-258 in the summer of 2021. COSWAP is designed to quickly move $17.5 million state stimulus dollars to start on-the-ground work on fuels reduction projects and increase Colorado's capacity to conduct critical forest restoration and wildfire mitigation work that will increase community resilience and protect life, property and infrastructure.

COSWAP will support fuels reduction efforts in the wildland urban interface (WUI) in two ways. First, by funding wildfire mitigation work done by conservation corps and the Department of Corrections (DOC) State Wildland Inmate Fire Teams (SWIFT), and wildfire mitigation workforce development training. Second, by strategically awarding funds for landscape scale strategic wildfire mitigation projects.

“The Department of Natural Resources shall prioritize those projects with the greatest potential to protect life, property, and infrastructure.” SB21-258

READ THE BILL

 

Workforce Development Grant

COSWAP has four opportunities to apply for the Workforce Development Grant. Use the COSWAP Workforce Development Grant Request for Applications and COSWAP Workforce Development Grant Application to apply for any of these opportunities.

Divisions of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources should email courtney.young@state.co.us for a unique Request for Applications and Application. 

Department of Corrections (DOC) State Wildland Inmate Fire Teams (SWIFT)

COSWAP is awarding DOC SWIFT crew time to execute wildfire mitigation projects statewide. Applications are being accepted for projects ranging from 6-25 weeks of crew time. Proposed projects must significantly reduce wildfire risk to life, property and/ or infrastructure. This is a crew time award, no cash will be awarded.

Geographic Scope: Statewide
Eligible applicants: 

  • Federal agencies
  • State agencies (DNR divisions contact courtney.young@state.co.us for separate application)
  • Local governments including counties, municipalities, fire protection districts and other special districts 
  • Tribes 
  • Public utilities with infrastructure or land ownership in areas of high wildfire risk
  • Registered homeowner associations, property owners associations, formal neighborhood associations and road districts
  • Wildfire Councils and/or wildfire, watershed or forest collaborative groups
  • Non-profit organizations that promote fuel reduction projects, are engaged in prescribed fire projects, or natural resource management

Match:  Applicants must provide in-kind match in the form of project management.
Timeline: Application released February 1, 2022. Applications will be accepted on a continual basis and reviewed monthly starting February 14, 2022. Projects must be completed by December 31, 2023.
Other: Crew availability is subject to wildfire deployment. 
 

CYCA Accredited Conservation Corps

COSWAP is awarding Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) accredited conservation corps crew time to execute wildfire mitigation projects in Strategic Focus Areas. Projects can range from 6-25 weeks of crew time. Proposed projects must significantly reduce wildfire risk to life, property and/ or infrastructure. This is a crew time award, no cash will be awarded.

Geographic Scope: Strategic Focus Areas (Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative focal areas and Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, La Plata and Teller counties)
Eligible applicants: 

  • Federal agencies
  • State agencies (DNR divisions contact courtney.young@state.co.us for separate application)
  • Local governments including counties, municipalities, fire protection districts and other special districts 
  • Tribes 
  • Public utilities with infrastructure or land ownership in areas of high wildfire risk
  • Registered homeowner associations, property owners associations, formal neighborhood associations and road districts
  • Wildfire Councils and/or wildfire, watershed or forest collaborative groups
  • Non-profit organizations that promote fuel reduction projects, are engaged in prescribed fire projects, or natural resource management

Match: Applicants must provide in-kind match in the form of project management.
Timeline: Application released February 1, 2022. Applications will be accepted on a continual basis and reviewed monthly starting February 14, 2022. Projects must be completed by December 31, 2023.
Other: Crew availability can vary. If requesting a mitigation project in 2022, you are encouraged to apply early.

Non-CYCA Accredited Conservation Corps

This cash grant opportunity  is designed to support community-level wildfire risk reduction to protect life, property and infrastructure from wildfire, through the use of non-CYCA accredited conservation corps. Applicants can apply for a cash grant up to $100,000 to pay a non-CYCA accredited to conduct wildfire mitigation. 

Geographic Scope: Strategic Focus Areas (Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative focal areas and Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, La Plata and Teller counties)
Eligible applicants: 

  • Federal agencies
  • State agencies (DNR divisions contact courtney.young@state.co.us for separate application)
  • Local governments including counties, municipalities, fire protection districts and other special districts 
  • Tribes 
  • Public utilities with infrastructure or land ownership in areas of high wildfire risk
  • Registered homeowner associations, property owners associations, formal neighborhood associations and road districts
  • Wildfire Councils and/or wildfire, watershed or forest collaborative groups
  • Non-profit organizations that promote fuel reduction projects, are engaged in prescribed fire projects, or natural resource management

Match: Applicant must provide a 25% in-kind or cash match of the award amount.
Timeline: Application released February 1, 2022. Applications will be accepted on a continual basis and reviewed monthly starting February 14, 2022. Projects must be completed by December 31, 2023.
Other: Crew availability can vary. Conservation corps crews require project oversight and management.

Workforce Development Training

To better develop Colorado’s current workforce COSWAP will fund training opportunities for mitigation and prescribed fire. Trainings are limited to S130/S190/L180, S212 and Prescribed Fire Training Exchanges (TREX). Training grants are only available in Strategic Focus Areas. Participants of a COSWAP funded training are required to complete a mitigation project within one year of the training. Applicants can apply for a cash grant up to $100,000.

Geographic Scope: Trainings must occur in Strategic Focus Areas (Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative focal areas and Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, La Plata and Teller counties)
Eligible applicants: 

  • Federal agencies
  • State agencies (DNR divisions contact courtney.young@state.co.us for separate application)
  • Local governments including counties, municipalities, fire protection districts and other special districts 
  • Tribes 
  • Public utilities with infrastructure or land ownership in areas of high wildfire risk
  • Registered homeowner associations, property owners associations, formal neighborhood associations and road districts
  • Wildfire Councils and/or wildfire, watershed or forest collaborative groups
  • Non-profit organizations that promote fuel reduction projects, are engaged in prescribed fire projects, or natural resource management

Match: Applicant must provide a 25% in-kind or cash match of the award amount.
Timeline: Application released February 1, 2022. Applications will be accepted on a continual basis and reviewed monthly starting February 14, 2022. Training and  projects must be completed by December 31, 2023.
Other: COSWAP funding must be repaid if no mitigation project is completed and reported on within one year of the training.

Landscape Resilience Investment

The Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program has $8 million for landscape scale wildfire mitigation projects in COSWAP’s ten Strategic Focus Areas. DNR coordinated directly with county leadership and Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative leaders in the Strategic Focus Areas to administer the Landscape Resilience Investment program. Participation in this program is by invitation only. For information on program implementation in a specific Strategic Focus Area contact the local Office of Emergency Management or the RMRI focal area.

Strategic Focus Areas 

Strategic Focus Areas include Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, La Plata and Teller counties plus Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative focal areas.

 

To learn more about the process of identifying Strategic Focus Areas see the White Paper. 

White Paper

Partnerships

The Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program is designed and implemented collaboratively between partners identified in SB21-258. Representatives from the Colorado State Forest Service and the Division of Fire Prevention and Control work with program staff within the Department of Natural Resources to make decisions on program priorities, methods and implementation. The partners implemented a Memorandum of Understanding to guide their coordination. 

Pile burning at Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Frequently Asked Questions

Senate Bill 21-258 (SB21-258) provides one-time state stimulus funding to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to increase the pace and scale of fuels reduction for wildfire risk mitigation across the state to protect life, property and infrastructure. Per statute, DNR is partnering with the Colorado State Forest Service and Division of Fire Prevention and Control to design and implement this program. DNR hired two term employees in September 2021 to lead implementation over the next three years. DNR created the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program, a unique opportunity that enhances workforce development through the Colorado Youth Corps Association and the Department of Corrections State Wildland Inmate Fire Team crews, and an additional opportunity to focus fuels reduction investments in strategic areas of the state to protect life, property and infrastructure. 

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Executive Director’s Office is the primary manager of the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program. DNR hired two, three year term employees to manage the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program. Per statute, all decisions are made collaboratively between Colorado State Forest Service, Division of Fire Prevention and Control and DNR in accordance with a memorandum of understanding between the three entities. 

The Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program is a one time, special release initiative with the requirement that funds be obligated by June 30, 2023.

 

SB21-258 called for the U.S. Forest Service to send a National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) Team to Colorado to perform a comprehensive risk analysis to identify the most strategic locations in the state for investments in fuels reduction. Due to the active 2020 fire season a NIMO Team was not available, however Region 2 of the U.S. Forest Service made its fire and fuels experts available. Subject matter experts from the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service, Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Bureau of Land Management, National Parks Service, and the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University formed the Rapid Fuels Reduction Assessment (RFRA) team to perform the comprehensive risk analysis. Over the summer and fall of 2021 a core team analyzed federal and state risk assessments to determine the most strategic areas for fuels reduction work to guide the current distribution of the Wildfire Mitigation Capacity Development Fund. 

Municipal, county, state, state-operated, federal, Tribal, and private lands as applicable to the funding programs offered through the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program.

As of February 1, 2022, COSWAP’s Workforce Development Grant is open for applications. Please refer to the Workforce Development Grant section of this website to download the Request for Applications (RFA) and Application. 

Participation in COSWAP’s Landscape Resilience Investment is by invitation only. DNR coordinated directly with county leadership and Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative leaders in the Strategic Focus Areas to administer the Landscape Resilience Investment program

All projects must be focused on reducing wildfire risk to property and critical infrastructure. SWIFT and conservation corps projects must be appropriate for hand crew work. This includes, but is not limited to, forest thinning, fuelbreaks, chipping and/or biomass removal. Individual defensible space projects are not eligible. The Landscape Resilience Investment program focuses on cross-boundary hazardous fuel reduction projects, including prescribed fire and planning efforts, that create project connectivity across a landscape to reduce wildfire impacts to communities. 

  1. The Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program takes a targeted approach to reducing wildfire risk in Colorado, where the majority of the funding is focused in seven counties (Larimer, Boulder, Douglas, Jefferson, El Paso, Teller and La Plata) and the Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative focal areas. COSWAP also has a state level component for the DOC-SWIFT crews. COSWAP is one time funding that needs to be obligated by June 30, 2023 and can be spent on federal, state, state-operated, private municipal, county and tribal land.
  2. The Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation (FRWRM) program is a statewide competitive grant program through the Colorado State Forest Service. Eligible applicants include local community groups, local government entities such as fire protection districts, public and private utilities, state agencies, and non-profit groups. The grant program supports projects on non-federal lands in Colorado for the purposes of fuels and forest health projects, and/or capacity building projects. 
  3. Matching contributions for FRWRM may be in the form of private, state or federal support for the project. State funds may be used as match; however, no more than 50 percent of the applicant’s matching funds can come from another state funding source. An exception is made if the applicant is a state agency, where more than 50 percent of matching funds can then come from a state source. Please contact your regional Colorado State Forest Service office for more information. 

Supplemental Information 

Information about Colorado and wildfire risks to life, property and infrastructure are found on the Colorado State Forest Atlas 

Colorado Youth Corps Association

Department of Corrections- SWIFT

Colorado State Forest Service guidelines for fuel breaks

Information on forest products/wood utilization in Colorado (Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program)

Other Wildfire Mitigation Funding Opportunities

Stay connected

Sign up via this form to receive program updates. 

Sign up

Questions

For program questions please contact:

Alison Lerch, Program Administrator: alison.lerch@state.co.us 

or Courtney Young, Program Facilitator: courtney.young@state.co.us