Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today sent a letter to Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey requesting the approval of Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) funds for wildfire recovery projects in Colorado.
“Colorado’s 2018 wildfire season was one of the most destructive ever and recovery efforts are underway,” Bennet wrote. “Without emergency watershed restoration, there will continue to be a high degree of risk to lives and property from debris flow and flooding as a result of these fires. We request that you formally approve EWP funds as soon as possible.”
The Spring Creek Fire, 416 Fire, and Lake Christine Fire combined burned approximately 175,000 acres, affecting watersheds in La Plata, Huerfano, Costilla, and Eagle counties. In the letter, Bennet noted that some of the recovery projects are time sensitive, classified as exigent by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and need funding before winter arrives.
In 2014, Bennet successfully secured $110 million in funding to address the Colorado EWP project backlog that resulted from wildfires the previous year.
Earlier this month, Bennet requested funding to modernize firefighting assets for the U.S. Forest Service. In October, the Senate passed the Bennet-led Wildfire Mitigation Assistance Act, making available new funding for Colorado communities recovering from wildfires. In March, Bennet helped lead the effort to pass into law a long-term, bipartisan funding solution to stabilize the Forest Service budget.
A copy of the letter is available HERE.