Neguse, Bennet want more federal funding for wildfire relief |

Neguse, Bennet want more federal funding for wildfire relief

Colorado’s representatives are working to provide federal support for local recovery efforts from the East Troublesome Fire.

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse and Sen. Michael Bennet have called on Congress to include wildfire mitigation and recovery relief funding in the next coronavirus relief package.

On Thursday, Neguse plans to introduce the Wildfire Recovery Act, a bill that would help cover costs for firefighting, including field camp expenses, equipment, repairs, mobilization and other eligible Fire Management Assistance Grant expenses.

The East Troublesome Fire in Grand County and Rocky Mountain National Park was the second largest in state history. Over 500 structures burned in the blaze, including more than 200 primary residences, and damage costs will likely be tens of millions.

The county has been authorized to receive a Fire Management Assistance Grant. Currently, the grant requires a 25% cost-share from Grand County, with federal dollars making up 75%.

Neguse’s bill would potentially reduce the county’s cost and increase the federal cost-share.

“Communities in the 2nd District and across Colorado have experienced a devastating wildfire season, and it’s essential that they have the full extent of federal resources available for recovery,” Neguse said in a statement.

The 2nd District includes Broomfield, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Larimer, and Summit counties, as well as portions of Boulder, Eagle, Jefferson, Park and Weld counties.

Grand County Commissioner Rich Cimino noted that the county’s budget is already tight and the high costs could slow local recovery efforts.

“This bill is exactly what Grand County needs,” Cimino said. “Rural Colorado counties with relatively large scale disasters cannot afford the old 25% cost-share.”

Beyond Neguse’s legislation, he and Bennet signed a letter calling on Congress to invest in wildfire mitigation and recovery efforts with the next COVID-19 relief package. The letter supports funding for local economic relief, forest management, increased FEMA grants, increased pay for federal firefighters and recovery efforts.

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