On June 30, 2021, President Joe Biden announced a $37 million federal Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The grant supports wildfire planning and hazard risk reduction efforts in areas of Sonoma County identified as being at higher risk for the next wildfire. The grant is matched by $13 million in county funds and will be administered by Permit Sonoma.
What is a Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities or BRIC grant?
BRIC is a FEMA program that supports states, local communities, tribes, and territories as they undertake hazard risk reduction projects, reducing the risks they face from disasters and natural hazards. You can learn more about the BRIC program from FEMA.
The program builds on strategies being developed in our Community Wildfire Protection Plan, our Multi-Jurisdiction Hazard Mitigation Plan, and other fire prevention efforts.
What will the Sonoma County BRIC grant fund?
This grant will help Sonoma County utilize the best science and undertake innovative wildfire risk reduction efforts. The grant will help us create best practices for applying science-based risk reduction strategies on the ground in three divergent Sonoma County landscapes. We hope that these strategies can be used as a model for future efforts.
This is not a county-wide grant. The grant focuses on three at-risk areas: Larkfield-Wikiup/Mark West, Guernewood-Guerneville-Rio Nido Area, and Penngrove-Sonoma Mountain Landscape.
There are two phases of the grant submitted by Permit Sonoma:
Phase 1 is a planning phase. Permit Sonoma will work with tribal, local, state, and federal partners to coordinate agencies working to mitigate and fight wildfire. During this phase, there is no additional funding for direct risk reduction work.
Phase 2 focuses on a house-out-wildland-in approach to structural hardening, defensible space, and vegetation management.
When will the grant programs begin?
We expect an official award to happen shortly. The Board of Supervisors must vote to formally accept the award. Phase 1, the planning phase, of the program is expected to last about 18 months. Then Sonoma County will request FEMA to release funding for Phase 2, the implementation phase. While there will be education and outreach during Phase 1, we only expect to work with property owners on risk reduction projects during Phase 2.
How can I learn more about the program and opportunities to do structural hardening, vegetation management, and create defensible space?
The best way to learn more is to sign up for our BRIC project email list. We will use the list to inform people of community meetings, ways to get engaged, and potential funding opportunities for wildfire risk reduction efforts in the designated areas during Phase 2 of the program.
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Who partnered with Permit Sonoma in the grant application?
The Nature Conservancy and Earth Economics provided technical support to Permit Sonoma on the successful BRIC grant, as part of their Cooperating Technical Partnership with FEMA.