$79 Million Approved for National Forest Fire Restoration Efforts

After Calling for this Support in November 2020, Senator Michael Bennet Secured These Funds in the Government Spending Bill Signed into Law in September

Recently, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet welcomed $79 million from the U.S. Forest Service to help Routt, White River, and Arapaho & Roosevelt national forests recover from 2020 wildfires.

“I’m thrilled to see this critical funding for Colorado forests after three of the largest wildfires in our state’s history tore through our communities in 2020 and I applaud Secretary Vilsack and the Forest Service for their work to get these dollars on the ground in Colorado before the summer rains imperil our watersheds and water supplies,” said Bennet. “For over a year, we’ve worked to secure these funds to help our communities recover and rebuild. As climate change fuels more extreme wildfires and other natural disasters across the West, it is more important than ever that we ensure our communities have the resources they need to protect our landscape for future generations.”

Bennet secured these funds to help Colorado communities restore their forests in the government funding bill signed into law in September. He first called for these funds in November 2020 in a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies and a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

Bennet will continue to work to secure additional funding for wildfire recovery projects in Colorado to restore watersheds and complete critical infrastructure repairs and replacements, including restoring campgrounds, roads, trails, and other facilities damaged by the fires.

“The devastating East Troublesome Fire of 2020 has left the drinking water supplies of over 1 million Coloradans at risk due to severe damage to our watershed within the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest.  Northern Water greatly appreciates the hard work and steadfast dedication of Senator Bennet working cooperatively with Northern Water, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, the State of Colorado, and other local governments to secure vital and urgent funding to restore our watersheds and to ensure Northern Water can deliver water supplies to the cities, towns, and water districts we serve.  Restoration efforts must continue for several years and this funding is a great start for the rehabilitation of US Forest Service lands,” said Northern Water.

“We appreciate the work that Senator Bennet has done to get this funding secured.  We know that there is a lot more needed, but it’s a great start to address our forest management and watershed health issues and to help prevent the devastating effects of wildfires on our communities,” said Merrit Linke, Grand County Commissioner.

“The watersheds impacted by 2020 wildfires in Colorado will take years to recover, and the work to restore these burned headwaters has only just begun.  The 2021 monsoon season resulted in catastrophic and deadly flood events and polluted our rivers with sediment and ash. The timing has never been more urgent for the Disaster Supplemental Funding. It will provide critical support to the state to protect communities and our valuable water supplies, improve water quality, and restore high severity burn areas,” said Hally Strevey, Executive Director, Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed.

“We appreciate Senator Bennet for his work on Cameron Peak fire recovery and helping to secure this next round of funding. In partnership with the Forest Service, this will allow us to take another major step toward the restoration of our watershed, which is critical to our water supply,” said Fort Collins Mayor Jeni Arndt.

“Since the devastating Cameron Peak fire in 2020, the top priority for the City of Greeley has been and remains fire impact mitigation and watershed restoration. The city’s focus has been on protecting the watersheds that supply our residents with clean reliable water. The Cameron Peak and East Troublesome Fires collectively burned more than 400,000 acres of watersheds critical to Greeley, other municipalities, and irrigators across Northern Colorado. Over the past 18 months, Greeley has been working closely with other stakeholders to mitigate the most severely burned areas that pose a significant risk to water supply,” said Sean Chambers, Director of Water & Sewer, City of Greeley.

“By supporting the financial needs of Colorado after these historic fires, the U.S. Forest Service is making a very meaningful down payment on the vast watershed recovery that is needed to protect a reliable water supply for all of the communities downstream of the fires.  We are grateful for the recovery support and the dedicated effort of Senator Michael Bennet and our congressional delegation and look forward to continuing good work with the regional office of the USFS and our local forest managers,” added Chambers.

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