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California Receives $70 Million For Rim Fire Restoration Program

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Area burned by the Rim Fire. Photo taken in 2015 near Yosemite National Park.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

More than 257,000 acres burned in the Rim Fire, the third largest in California history.

“This one was so large and went right up the core of some of our most productive, pristine, forest areas," says Craig Pedro, Tuolumne County Administrator. "It’s impacting our timber industry, our tourism industry. It’s impacting significantly the environment...the watershed.”

Seventy-million dollars from a federal National Disaster Resilience Competition will help create a pilot program to reduce the risk of wildfire. Pedro says the county applied for $117 million, but the money will go far enough to help create energy from forest waste.

“If you have a biomass facility where you can take that material it can be dealt with efficiently, with less impact on the environment, it creates energy and creates jobs,” says Pedro.

The money will also be used to create fire breaks, restore forest and watershed health, and to build a new year-round evacuation center.

"What we’re trying to do is do things differently than have been done in the past that will help in the future to make the community more resilient and maybe be a model for other communities that go through such tragic emergencies," says Pedro.

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