Feds award wildfire recovery funds to Eagle County for Lake Christine Fire
Eagle County and other areas of Colorado hit by wildfires this summer will receive federal Emergency Watershed Protection funds, according to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $20.2 million for wildfire recovery projects for the Lake Christine Fire in Eagle County, the 416 Fire in La Plata County and the Spring Creek Fire in Huerfano and Costilla counties.
The funds will be used for post-fire flooding and watershed restoration projects on both public and private lands.
“This is great news,” said Eagle County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry in a prepared statement. “This funding was far from certain, and we want to thank Sen. Bennet and Gov. 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.”
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The announcement didn’t say how the funds would be allocated among the counties. However, the grant was based on applications from the counties, according to a representative of Hickenlooper’s office. In Eagle County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service helped prepare the application.
The Lake Christine Fire heavily affected CPW’s Basalt State Wildlife Area. The state agency has been building check dams, planting seed and taking other measures to control the flow of water off the wildlife area and into gullies that lead to streams and the Roaring Fork River.
The grant will be used for projects that prevent flooding and debris flows that threaten properties and communities, according to Bennet.
“Colorado’s 2018 wildfire season was one of the most destructive to date and requires a robust response,” Bennet said in a statement. “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.”
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The Basalt Town Council voted 7-0 Tuesday night to take a first, small step to try to spur business at restaurants and retail shops. They will mail $20 vouchers to all town households.