The Biden administration on Monday awarded $197 million in grants to help 22 states and seven tribes prepare for the coming wildfire season.

The funding will boost firefighter housing and pay, treat fuels on federal forest lands and help manage fires, with a focus on low-income communities and tribes. The grants are the first from a new $1 billion community protection program that stems from $7 billion in wildfire funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act.

The 100 projects in the initial round will also help high-risk communities, nonprofit organizations and state forestry agencies establish protection plans and educate homeowners on prevention practices like cleaning roof gutters and clearing vegetation.

“Drought, climate change, increasing development in the wildland urban interface—combined with years of excluding natural fire from our ecosystem—have led to year-round fire activity and increased the destruction and scale of wildfires,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters. 

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Vice President Kamala Harris explained how wildfires are personal to her, having toured homes destroyed by several catastrophic fires in her home state of California.

“Our future is not yet written and the solutions are at hand,” said Harris, in connecting the role of climate change in exacerbating wildfires. “We can actually right now have an impact on how this all plays out, particularly as it relates to wildfires.”

The administration touted the spending as a down payment for much more investment offered in President Joe Biden’s budget proposal. White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu added that Congress needs to “step up to the plate” now.

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