Payson Healthy Forest/Hazardous Fuels Grant
Part 1 of 2
By Bob Decker
You may have read an article in the Payson Roundup by Michele Nelson on page 3 of the Tuesday, February 7th issue. “Payson receives grant to “Firewise” Town property.” This is a fabulous move in the “right direction” for the Town of Payson. On August 13th, 2020, the then Town Council passed the “Firewise” Ordinance after more than 10 years of stalemate. Kevin McCully was hired as the Town Fuels Manager, and one of his many chief duties is to apply for grants to help finance the massive amount of fuels mitigation that needs to be done to make our Town safer in the event of a wildfire, as it has been ignored for many, many years. So…would you like to apply for a grant to help you clean up the excess weeds and growth on your property and make it safer for you and your neighbors? Many people have asked me how the grant process works, and there are many circulating misconceptions. There are a lot of “hoops to jump through” and the process can be confusing. Dave Golembewski, a local Certified “Firewise” contractor in Payson, who has years of experience, gave aid in understanding the process, including Elsa Steffanson of Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction, and Kevin McCully of the Payson Fire Department.
Here is how the Arizona Healthy Forest/Hazardous Fuels Grant works. The Arizona Healthy Forest/Hazardous Fuels grant is provided by the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. It is called a “matching grant” as it will pay 70% of the cost to “Firewise” a home up to $2,100 per acre. The cost to “Firewise” a property has a vast range in terms of price which depends on the slope of the ground, the density of the brush, trees that may need to be trimmed or removed, and how much has to be removed (called slash or green waste), and taken to a dump or pit for disposal. Let’s not forget there’s a fee to dump the slash, as well as the cost of fuel to haul it, including the man and machine power required to remove it all. Unfortunately, in this day and age, $2,100 – which is the MAXIMUM per acre, does not go very far. However, it is definitely a bonus when many properties are $3,000-$7,000 per acre depending on the complexity I have mentioned. Could it be less? Of course, but it depends on the size of the job (larger jobs might get a discount) or your contractor, the availability of people that WANT to work, and the time of year (Hint: winter is the slow season). If it is less, remember; the grant pays up to 70% PER ACRE, and you pay the remaining 30%. Most residents have less than a quarter of an acre of property, so that amount will be pro-rated, and is measured in tenths of an acre. But when does it pay? And when do you pay? We will get to that in the next issue in Part 2.
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