Resilience in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)

 

Natural Resources, Ecosystems, & Agriculture


Natural ecosystems like wetlands, forests, marshes, and grasslands provide significant services that benefit and protect people – natural barriers from storms and flooding, air and water filtration, and acting as carbon sinks to absorb and store carbon, helping mitigate the impacts of climate change. As stated in GCC's Equitable Adaptation Legal & Policy Toolkit, “[i]nvestments in ‘natural resilience,’ referring to the ability of ecosystems and the natural environment to absorb and recover quickly from stresses or disturbances, can also bring many other environmental, social, economic, and health-related” benefits to communities.

IIJA provides a mix of funding for new and existing programs related to natural resources, ecosystems, and agriculture in addition to creating new requirements for agencies. These programs are administered by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers—Civil, the Department of the Interior (DOI), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (under the Department of Homeland Security). This section highlights the natural resources, ecosystems, and agriculture programs and projects that have resilience features. There are multiple programs funding various wildfire mitigation or risk reduction activities. For example, IIJA provides $2.13B for fiscal years 2022 through 2026 for ecosystem restoration projects and for USDA, in coordination with DOI, to create a collaborative-based, landscape-scale restoration program. IIJA also provides $132M for EPA’s existing National Estuary Program, which protects and restores estuaries.

On November 15, 2021, IIJA became Public Law 117-58. Each description below includes a citation to where the program is listed in IIJA. Any listed page numbers refer to the page numbers of the Public Law 117-58 PDF document linked here.

Information regarding the programs covered under Justice40 is found here and is updated as of August 18, 2022.


Grant Programs 

State Fire Assistance Grants

  • Division J, Title VI, Page 979
  • Agency: Department of Agriculture 
  • Description: Funding for state fire assistance (SFA) grants. “The SFA program assists state forestry agencies in wildfire response coordination and delivery, compliance with the national safety and training standards that ensure state and local crew deployment to federal fires and other emergency situations, hazard assessments, fuels treatment projects, and public education efforts. Contact your State Forester's office for grant application forms and deadlines.”See footnote 1
  • Funding: $88M 

Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants

  • Division J, Title VI, Page 979
  • Agency: Department of Agriculture 
  • Description: Funding for volunteer fire assistance (VFA) grants. “The VFA program, formerly known as the Rural Community Fire Protection program, is administered by state forestry agencies through 50-50 cost-sharing grants to local fire departments in rural communities. The program's main goal is to provide federal financial, technical, and other assistance in the organization, training, and equipping of fire departments in rural areas with a population of 10,000 or less. Contact your State Forester's office for grant application forms and deadlines.”See footnote 2
  • Funding: $20M 

Programs and Projects

Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program

  • Section 40801, Page 666
  • Agency: Department of Agriculture 
  • Description: Amends the Forest Roads and Trails Act. Adds that the Department of Agriculture must create the Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program that among other things, works to restore passages for fish and other aquatic species and improve the resilience of National Forest System roads, trails, and bridges to extreme weather events, flooding, or other natural disasters.
  • Funding: To the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out Section 8 of the Forest Roads and Trails Act $250M for fiscal years 2022 through 2026. 

Wildfire Risk Reduction

  • Section 40803, Page 669
    • Agencies: Department of Agriculture & Department of the Interior 
    • Description: Funding for activities related to wildfire risk reduction, which includes collaboration under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (section 4003 of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (16 U.S.C. 7303)), mechanical thinning and timber harvesting, and wildfire defense grants.
    • Funding: To the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, acting through the Forest Service. $3,369,200,000 for fiscal years 2022 through 2026. 
  • Division J, Title VI, Pages 965, 966, 980, and 982
    • Department of the Interior, Wildland Fire Management Activities 
      • Description: $1,458,000,000 to remain available until expended: (1) $1.055B to carry out activities as authorized in Section 40803, including fuels management activities ($327M to remain available until expended, for fiscal year 2022, and $182M to remain available until expended, for each of fiscal years 2023 through 2026); (2) $35.6M for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026 for fuels management activities; and (3) $45M for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026 for burned area rehabilitation.
    • Department of Agriculture, Wildland Fire Management Activities
      • Description: $2,854,000,000 to remain available until expended: (1) $2.115B for the Department of Agriculture acting through the Forest Service for activities as authorized in Sections 40803 and 40804; (2) $102.8M for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026 for hazardous fuels management activities; and (3) $45M for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026 for burned area recovery.
      • Description: For the Department of Agriculture, acting through the Forest Service. $696,200,000 to remain available until expended. To carry out activities as authorized in Section 40803. 
  • Does Justice40 Apply?: Justice40 applies to the "Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program," "Hazardous Fuels Management," and "Reducing Wildfire Risk to Tribes, Underserved, and Socially Vulnerable Communities." 

Ecosystem Restoration

  • Section 40804, Page 677
    • Agencies: Department of Agriculture & Department of the Interior
    • Description: Funding for ecological health restoration projects through various programs, which include grants for voluntary ecosystem restoration projects on private or public land, grants for eradicating invasive species on non-Federal and federal land, and funding for the Department of Agriculture to in coordination with the Department of the Interior, to create a collaborative-based, landscape-scale restoration program. 
    • Funding: To the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Chief of the Forest Service, $2.13B for the period of fiscal years 2022 through 2026. 
  • Division J, Title VI, Page 980
    • Description: $2,854,000,000, to remain available until expended of which, $2,115,000,000 for the Department of Agriculture acting through the Forest Service for activities as authorized in Sections 40803 and 40804. 
  • Does Justice 40 Apply?: Justice40 applies to “Ecological Health Restoration Contracts,” “Financial Assistance to Facilities That Purchase and Process Byproducts for Ecosystem Restoration Projects,” “Landscape Scale Restoration Water Quality and Fish Passage,” “Recreation Sites,” Restoration Projects Via States and Tribes,” “Restore Native Vegetation on Federal/Non-Federal Land,” and “Revegetation Effort to Implement National Seed Strategy."

Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations

  • Division J, Title I, Page 922
  • Agency: Department of Agriculture 
  • Description: “The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program helps units of federal, state, local and tribal of government (project sponsors) protect and restore watersheds up to 250,000 acres. This program provides for cooperation between the Federal government and the states and their political subdivisions to work together to prevent erosion; floodwater and sediment damage; to further the conservation development, use and disposal of water; and to further the conservation and proper use of land in authorized watersheds.”See footnote 3
  • Funding: $500M
  • Does Justice40 Apply?: Yes

Watershed Rehabilitation Program

  • Division J, Title I, Page 923
  • Agency: Department of Agriculture 
  • Description: “The Watershed Rehabilitation Program helps project sponsors rehabilitate aging dams that are reaching the end of their design lives. This rehabilitation addresses critical public health and safety concerns. Since 1948, the Natural Resources Conservation Service NRCS has assisted local sponsors in constructing 11,845 dams project dams.”See footnote 4
  • Funding: $118M 
  • Does Justice40 Apply?: Yes

Emergency Watershed Protection Program

  • Division J, Title I, Page 923
  • Agency: Department of Agriculture 
  • Description: Funding “to repair damages to the waterways and watersheds resulting from natural disasters.”See footnote 5 The Emergency Watershed Protection Program “allows communities to quickly protect infrastructure and land from additional flooding and soil erosion.”See footnote 6
  • Funding: $300M

National Estuarine Research Reserve System 

  • Division J, Title II, Page 928
  • Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Description: Funding “for habitat restoration projects through the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (16 U.S.C. 1456c), including ecosystem conservation pursuant to section 12502 of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (16 U.S.C. 1456–1).”See footnote 7
  • Funding: $77M

Constructions

  • Division J, Title III, Page 931
  • Agency: Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers—Civil
  • Description: $11,615,000,000 which includes $115M for aquatic ecosystem restoration program under section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 (33 U.S.C. 2330) and $1.9B for aquatic ecosystem restoration projects.

National Estuary Program

  • Division J, Title V, Page 968
  • Agency: Environmental Protection Agency 
  • Description: Funding for the National Estuary Program, which “is an EPA place-based program to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance.”See footnote 8
  • Funding: $132M
  • Does Justice40 Apply?: Yes

New Requirements for Agencies

GAO Study

  • Section 40805, Page 682
  • Description: The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) must complete a study on the effectiveness of United States Forest Service programs designed to reduce wildfire risk and restore ecosystems. The study will be submitted to Congress.
  • Funding: To the Comptroller General of the United States, $800K.

Establishment of Commission

  • Section 70203, Page 824
  • Description: The Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Homeland Security acting through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, must establish a commission that will study and make recommendations to improve preventing and managing wildland fires and rehabilitating land devastated by wildland fires.

Miscellaneous

Reforestation Following Wildfires and Other Unplanned Events

  • Section 70302, Page 830
  • Description: Removal of “the cap on the Reforestation Trust Fund” and provides the Forest Service “more resources for post-fire reforestation.”See footnote 9

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