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Fish and Wildlife Service offers rural fire grants

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering grants to eight states in its Midwest Region, including Minnesota, through the federal Rural Fire Assistance Grant Program.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering grants to eight states in its Midwest Region, including Minnesota, through the federal Rural Fire Assistance Grant Program.

The program aims to improve the abilities of rural fire departments to respond to wildfire events on and near lands protected by the Department of Interior. As part of the program, the federal government funds 90 percent of requests, while the rural fire departments contribute 10 percent in funding or in-kind goods or services.

The grant program last year provided $301,000 in the Midwest Region, with Minnesota receiving $138,000, the service said in a news release. Goodridge, Minn., was among the communities to benefit from the program.

"We're very grateful for the grant money offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," said Dale Hanson, fire chief for the Goodridge Volunteer Fire Department. "Goodridge is a small town of only 100 residents, but the fire department is responsible for approximately 10 townships. Some of the money is used to send new volunteers to training and purchase the proper safety equipment to assist with wild-land fires."

Funds for 2009 now are available. For more information, log on to www.fws.gov/midwest/Fire , call regional coordinator Valdo Calvert at (612) 713-5445 or contact the nearest Fish and Wildlife Service office.

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