Cal OES Helps Karuk Tribe in Receiving $3 Million Federal Grant to Increase Wildfire Resiliency


Funding will be used to protect people and property on Tribal lands

SACRAMENTO – Taking aim to reduce wildfire risks on Tribal lands in the state, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has announced a $3 million grant to the Karuk Tribe in Northern California.

Administered by Cal OES, this federal grant will be used to fund projects aimed at minimizing long-term damage caused by wildfires, protecting over 400 tribal community members, about 150 housing units, a Head Start center, wellness center, government facilities, and other infrastructure.

“We are providing a proactive investment in community resilience, ensuring the Karuk people have the resources they need to be prepared for wildfires,” said Ryan Buras, Deputy Director of Recovery Operations at Cal OES. “This funding will help reduce continual losses in the state’s second-largest Tribal community that already has suffered from too much wildfire destruction.”

Specifically, the funding will be used to:

    • Improve defensible space by clearing and removing flammable vegetation around structures
    • Retrofit homes with ignition-resistant materials, such as replacing wood siding with vinyl, decking with concrete, and cedar roofing with metal
    • Clear vegetation along the roadways to allow for safe evacuation routes

These new measures will act as a safeguard for the current and future generations in the area, and work in tandem with the Karuk Tribe’s traditional land management practices to bring the Karuk tribal lands to a healthier state.

The $4 million project includes the $3 million grant from the federal government, with the remaining $1 million coming from the Tribal government.

Cal OES played an integral role in securing this federal funding for the Karuk Tribe by providing technical assistance during the application development phase, reviewing the application to make sure it met the criteria, and finally submitting the application on the tribe’s behalf back in 2020. Moving forward, Cal OES will continue to collaborate with Tribal members to ensure they successfully implement the project and follow all state and federal regulations and laws that pertain to the program.

The Karuk Tribe, who live and manage over one million acres of aboriginal lands along the Klamath and Salmon Rivers, were able to access federal funds following the Presidential Major Disaster Declaration nearly two years ago for the Slater Fire. On September 8, 2020, the Slater Fire raged through the ancestral heart of the tribe in Happy Camp, burning over 150,000 acres and ultimately destroying close to 200 homes.