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Senate bill could boost wildfire restoration efforts

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A bill passed by the U.S. Senate could help additional restoration efforts in areas scarred by wildfires last summer. Photo courtesy PSICC.

‘Water is precious’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Colorado communities hit hard by this past summer’s wildfires could get some help with restoring damaged watershed, as the U.S. Senate passed a disaster recovery bill that includes a boost in resources  to support Colorado’s watershed recovery efforts.

If the House passes the bill, the $125 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program likely will be used, in part, to repair watershed damages that El Paso, Larimer and Weld counties sustained during this year’s wildfire season.

“Water is precious in Colorado, especially right now during the worst drought in years,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “This bill will provide help for the Colorado communities that are recovering from the devastating fires this summer and are now facing threats to their water supply and the risk of flooding at the same time. I am hopeful our colleagues in the House will quickly pass the bill and deliver this support to the communities that need it,” Bennet said.

 “Water is the lifeblood of the West. I have been pushing for this critical funding for months, and I am glad we were successful in giving the families of El Paso, Larimer and Weld counties the resources they need to confront the severe wildfires we experienced earlier this year and preserve our critical water supplies,” said Senator Mark Udall. “Addressing the devastation from this past summer’s wildfires will ultimately save the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the long term. I plan to continue to be a strong advocate for fighting and preventing wildfires and ensuring that Congress takes a comprehensive approach to combating their immediate and long-term effects.”

“After months of working to secure this funding, I am pleased that Larimer and Weld counties are now a step closer to getting the help they need to protect our watershed and recover from this year’s devastating fires,” said Congressman Jared Polis. “The way in which the delegation continues to work together on a bipartisan basis to deliver wildfire recovery funding for Colorado should serve as an example to the Congress.”

 The EWP Program supports the restoration of eroded watersheds and damaged drinking water infrastructure. Projects include unclogging debris from stream channels, fortifying stream banks, securing water control structures, and improving other public infrastructure damaged or compromised by fire and drought.

As a result of the historic High Park fire outside Fort Collins, the area supplying municipal water to the city has a high risk of flooding, road washouts, and water quality degradation. Similarly, in Colorado Springs, a major utility pipe was exposed in the aftermath of this summer’s Waldo Canyon fire and remains vulnerable. With this supplemental funding allocated to the EWP, both Colorado communities can protect their critical infrastructure and help prevent future catastrophic damage from fires and floods.

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One Response

  1. Let’s hope that bill gets shot down. It’s the ultimate taxpayer rip-off.

    Among other “questionable” spending items in the Senate bill (beside the one described in the article) are $5.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers that has no accompanying statement of priorities on how to spend the money; $11.7 billion to help repair New York City’s subways; $2 million for roof repairs at the Smithsonian Institution; and $50 million in subsidies for tree planting on private properties.

    The bill also includes $188 million for an Amtrak project to curb railroad bottlenecks in the Northeast. The project was on the table long before Sandy hit in late October.

    Other items in the bill, include $150 million for fisheries in Mississippi, Alaska and New England unrelated to Sandy; $821 million for dredging projects in areas hit by Sandy and other natural disasters; $20,000 to buy a new car for the Department of Justice’s inspector general; $10.8 billion for

    the Federal Transportation Administration; $4 million for repairs at the Kennedy Space Center; $3.3 million for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center; and cancellation of loans related to Hurricane Katrina.

    If this watershed effort is worthy, it needs to be presented and approved on its own.

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