Recently-announced funding is a step in the right direction, but more still needs to be done to deal with after-effects of wildfires
On the heels of news that Colorado has received nearly $2.5 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall vowed to continue fighting for additional resources.
“Our state's watersheds and water infrastructure are critical to delivering clean drinking water to millions of Coloradans, but they are seriously threatened by this summer’s devastating wildfires," Bennet said. “These much-needed resources are a step in the right direction, but we need to continue working on behalf of the residents of El Paso and Larimer counties to secure additional assistance.”
“Coloradans are already facing serious threats to their water supplies, public infrastructure and private property due to this year’s severe fire season,” Udall said. “More needs to be done, but these funds from the EWP Program will provide critical support for the people of El Paso and Larimer counties as they continue to confront the lasting effects of the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires.”
The federal resources, administered through the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will allow for new treatments of affected lands and reimburse local governments for mitigation work done following the two largest fires in Colorado’s recent memory – the Waldo Canyon blaze in El Paso County and the High Park fire in Larimer County. The blazes decimated forests and dangerously increased the potential for soil erosion and flooding. NRCS will split the funds about evenly between the two disaster areas.
The NRCS administers the EWP program and provides funding and technical support to restore and stabilize soil in critical watersheds in the aftermath of severe fires and other natural disasters.
Last month, Udall and Bennet introduced an amendment to the U.S. House of Representative’s proposal to keep the government running for the next six months, commonly referred to as the Continuing Resolution, to secure emergency funding for the EWP program.
In August, Bennet and Udall urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to consider emergency supplemental funding for the EWP program.