Mar 4 -
Congressman Jared Polis expressed his excitement that the House of Representatives spending bill will include emergency funds to help Colorado communities recover from last year’s historic fire season and prevent flooding as part of H.R. 933, the Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013. This major victory for Colorado comes on the heels of a February 14 letter led by Congressman Polis, signed by all seven Colorado Representatives, asking the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies to include post-fire flood prevention funding for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program.
“I applaud House Appropriators for including this much-needed funding to protect our post-fire watersheds in the House’s most recent spending bill,” said Rep. Polis. “ I am proud to have worked with other members of the Colorado congressional delegation in a bipartisan and bicameral fashion to secure $48,256,765, which once passed, will ensure communities back home get the funding they need to mitigate damage and to restore land ravaged by the High Park and Waldo Canyon wildfires.”
"We are very grateful for Representative Polis working on behalf of those affected by the High Park fire,” said Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter. “With the increased flooding danger created by the fire, protecting and restoring our watershed is a critical part of our recovery efforts. Congressional support for Emergency Watershed Protection helps us to take much needed early steps to start mitigating that danger."
“Larimer County is extremely grateful to hear that a request for Emergency Watershed Protection funding is proceeding to the House Appropriations Committee,” said Suzanne Bassinger, Recovery Manager for Larimer County. “Larimer County continues to grapple with the issues involved in recovering from the devastating 87,000 acre High Park Fire. Not only is our transportation infrastructure and water supply at grave risk from anticipated post-fire runoff and watershed impacts, but our citizens are facing a significant risk of severe flooding and potential loss of property or life if these impacts cannot be mitigated. EWP funding will allow us to begin to address these on-going needs for the next several years.”
The Emergency Watershed Program, administered by the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, is essential to protecting citizens’ safety and helping communities address post-fire hazards, such as flooding. EWP funding helps communities stabilize soil and prevent erosion to protect water infrastructure. The funding is particularly important in Fort Collins, where the High Park fire has threatened the municipal water supply.
Congressman Polis authored a February 14 letter requesting at least $48,256,765 for EWP funding for Stafford Act designated areas to be designated in any spending bills for Fiscal Year 2013 or in the Fiscal Year 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The House spending bill will include the request for $48,256,765 for flood prevention funding—the exact amount requested by the House congressional delegation.
Polis also led an earlier letter on November 30 letter to House appropriators, along with other Colorado House members, urging inclusion of the funding in this year’s emergency disaster package. The funding was not included in the Hurricane Sandy disaster relief bill.