COLORADO—Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Governor John Hickenlooper last week secured $20.2 million in Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) funds for wildfire recovery projects in La Plata, Huerfano, Costilla and Eagle counties.
Through mitigation of post-fire flooding and watershed restoration, the projects will protect communities affected by the 416, Spring Creek and Lake Christine Fires.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement follows months of work coordinating between local officials and state and federal agencies to assemble these successful applications for federal funding.
“Colorado’s 2018 wildfire season was one of the most destructive to date and requires a robust response,” said Bennet. “These EWP funds will help Coloradans prevent flooding and debris that threaten their property and communities. We’ll continue working with Gov. Hickenlooper and local officials to ensure they have the federal resources they need to recover from the wildfires.”
“These funds will make Colorado communities more resilient as they recover from wildfires,” said Hickenlooper. “We are grateful to Sen.Bennet and his office for accomplishing what few have been able to do: jump start the federal government into action.”
“These funds are critical for our community and very time sensitive as we work to implement these urgent watershed restoration projects before winter,” said Costilla County Administrator Ben Doon. “We appreciate Senator Bennet’s leadership in helping ensure we receive this funding to assist our recovery from the Spring Creek Fire.”
“The Emergency Watershed Protection Program will provide real relief and protection for citizens and neighborhoods that were affected by the flooding that followed the 416 Fire,” said La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt. “We are pleased to be able to help facilitate access to this funding and very much appreciate Sen. Bennet’s and Gov. Hickenlooper’s work to support La Plata County’s efforts to secure funding for these essential life and safety projects.”
“This is great news,” said Eagle County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry. “This funding was far from certain, and we want to thank Senator Bennet and Governor Hickenlooper for their diligent efforts on our behalf. These federal dollars are needed for critical watershed restoration and flood mitigation in areas affected by the Lake Christine Fire.”
Last week, Bennet sent a letter urging USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey to approve the funds as soon as possible. In 2014, Bennet successfully secured $110 million in funding to address the Colorado EWP project backlog that resulted from wildfires the previous year.