DNR Announces New Grant to Boost On the Ground Wildfire Mitigation Projects

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Photo of yellow clad Dept of Corrections wildfire and mitigation teams.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources recently announced the release and call for applications to its Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP) Workforce Development Grant.  The Grant is designed to assist local governments, Tribes, wildfire councils, non-profit organizations, public utilities and other entities to support on the ground wildfire mitigation work by conservation corps or Department of Corrections (DOC) State Wildland Inmate Fire Teams (SWIFT), and funding to support wildfire mitigation workforce training. 

“We are extremely excited to get funds and these conservation corps and DOC SWIFT crews out to communities who are in immediate need of forest health and wildfire mitigation projects.  In many areas of Colorado there are projects waiting for funding or may not have the people power to get off the ground.  This Grant is here to kick start these needed projects and place hand crews where they are needed to protect life, property and critical infrastructure,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. 

The Workforce Development Grant encompasses:

Two types of project requests 

  1. Wildfire mitigation work completed by a conservation corps or DOC SWIFT crew. DOC SWIFT crews are available STATEWIDE while conservation corps are only available in COSWAP’s Strategic Focus Areas. 
  2. Wildfire mitigation workforce training (Strategic Focus Areas only)

Two funding mechanisms

  1. Crew time awards for 6-25 weeks of Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) accredited conservation corps or DOC SWIFT crews. These awards do not include any cash, only crew time and do not require a match.
  2. Cash grants of up to $100,000 for wildfire mitigation work completed by a non-CYCA accredited conservation corps, or for wildfire mitigation workforce training. Cash grants require a 25% match.  

“Our partnership with the Department of Natural Resources helps provide a critical service protecting Colorado communities from wildfires, but it also gives incarcerated men the chance to rebuild their lives and contribute in a meaningful way,” said Dean Williams, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Corrections.It is priceless to see the confidence and sense of worthiness that the men gain by participating in the SWIFT program. This partnership is an example of how intergovernmental cooperation and a willingness to find creative solutions can truly benefit taxpayers.” 

“This investment will not only protect thousands of Coloradans through critical fire mitigation, it will employ hundreds of young adult corps members and develop the next generation of wildland firefighters.  The COSWAP program will leave a legacy of lives and property saved along with hundreds of conservation corps members serving their local communities across Colorado,” said Scott Segerstrom, Executive Director, Colorado Youth Corps Association.

“The COSWAP partnership with conservation service corps represents the best of Colorado:  hundreds of young adults heeding the call to serve their communities and tackle the issue of devastating wildland fires head-on.”

How to Apply

Applicants are encouraged to review the request of applications document to learn more about eligibility and timelines and download an application on COSWAP’s website: https://dnr.colorado.gov/divisions/forestry/co-strategic-wildfire-action-program. DNR will accept applications on a continual basis until all funding is awarded. 

The Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP) within the Department of Natural Resources 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.