City of McAlester awarded $5.8 million Community Wildfire Defense Grant

The City of McAlester was awarded $5,842,630 through the Community Wildfire Defense Grant (CWDG) program to help at-risk communities protect their homes, businesses and infrastructure from catastrophic wildfire.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Xochitl Torres Small announced May 14, 2024 the $250 million granted through the project will fund 158 projects to help communities in 31 States, two Territories and 11 Tribes develop community wildfire protection plans and remove overgrown vegetation that can fuel fires that threaten lives, livelihoods, and resources. The City of McAlester was awarded one of the largest grant amounts in the top 12% and is one of just three Oklahoma entities to be named a grantee in the program’s second year.

“The City is grateful to be named a grantee through this program so we can help us make our community much safer from the threat of a potential natural disaster,” City Manager Dave Andren said.

"The City has long needed to address the issue of potential wildfires and now has the resources to do it,” Grants Administrator Michael Allen said. “We are grateful to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry for bringing the grant opportunity to our attention and assisting us in preparing a successful application.”

The McAlester Wildfire Prevention Project aims to establish a sustainable wildfire prevention approach with a dedicated Wildfire Mitigation Unit, assets to facilitate mitigation efforts, clearing of combustible materials and vegetation, establish firebreaks and conduct controlled burns, and continue public outreach and community engagement efforts to prevent wildfires.

The USDA’s Forest Service collaborated with Tribes and States through an interagency working group to develop the CWDG program. Grant proposals undergo a competitive selection process that includes review panels made up of State forestry agencies, Tribal representatives, and other organizations. The proposals are reviewed using guidelines within the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which prioritize at-risk communities that have been impacted by a severe disaster, are at a high or very high potential for wildfire hazard, and are classified as low income.