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 work done by the Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) and the State Wildland Inmate Fire Teams (SWIFT) within the Department of Corrections (DOC), and second, by 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

 

Programs

DNR currently has funding to support three programs. Program details last updated: 11/19/21

Conservation Corps

This program is designed to assist with community-level wildfire risk reduction to protect life, property and infrastructure from wildfire, through the state-supported deployment of conservation corps crews.


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: To be determined
Match: Applicant or project partners must provide in-kind match in the form of project management.
Timeline: Applications are expected to be available in the winter of 2021 
Other: Crew availability can vary. Conservation corps crews require project oversight and management. 

State Wildland Inmate Fire Teams (SWIFT)

The Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program is funding work done by SWIFT crews across the state. Proposed projects must significantly reduce wildfire risk to life, property and/or infrastructure.


Geographic Scope: Statewide
Eligible applicants: To be determined
Match:  Applicant or project partners must provide in-kind match in the form of project management
Timeline: Program rollout anticipated winter 2021/2022
Other: Crew availability is subject to wildfire deployment. SWIFT crews require project oversight and management.

Landscape Scale Fuels Reduction

The Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program has funding for landscape wildfire mitigation projects in ten Strategic Focus Areas in the state. Projects under this program are required to be collaborative and strategic to protect life, property and infrastructure from wildfire.
 

Geographic Scope: Strategic Focus Areas identified through the Rapid Fuels Reduction Assessment for their high wildfire risk to life, property and infrastructure: Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative focal areas and Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, La Plata and Teller counties.
Eligible applicants: Government entities.
Deadline: Program rollout anticipated in winter 2021/2022
Applying for funding: Application process in development. Please sign up here for program updates and revisit this website for updated information.
 

Youth corp member at work

Timeline

June 15, 2021 Senate bill 21-258 passed in the state legislature
Anticipated winter 2021 CYCA request for applications released (Strategic Focus Areas only)
To be determined DOC-SWIFT request for applications released (Statewide)
To be determined Landscape Scale Fuels Reduction projects request for applications released (Strategic Focus Areas only)

Revised 11/19/21

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 and private lands as applicable to the funding programs offered through the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program.

The Colorado Youth Corps application for Strategic Focus Areas is being released on November 22, 2021 and will be available on the website. Please check back for program applications for SWIFT crews and Landscape Scale Fuels Reduction Projects.

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, fuel breaks, chipping and/or biomass removal. Individual defensible space projects are not eligible. The landscape scale fuels reduction project program is in development and will focus on large scale 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)

Stay connected

Sign up via this form to receive program updates. 

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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