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Udall Welcomes White House Request for Wildfire, Watershed-Relief Disaster Funding

'The Effects of Wildfires Last Long After Final Embers are Extinguished'

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012

Mark Udall thanked the president for requesting that Congress dedicate $30 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) and encouraged congressional appropriators to help Colorado communities that are still recovering from last summer's severe wildfire season. Udall had been urging the Administration to request such EWP funds and will now focus on ensuring that the funds address Colorado’s urgent needs.

"As the people of Colorado know, the effects of wildfires last long after the final embers are extinguished. As Congress confronts the president’s request for additional disaster relief, it is critical that we fully address the watershed damage in El Paso and Larimer counties," Udall said. "Focusing on these efforts is not only the right thing to do, it's also the fiscally prudent approach. Failure to quickly address the approximately $20 million in watershed damages stemming from the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires could cost local, state and federal taxpayers and ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the future."

Udall also reminded his colleagues that Congress has historically provided assistance for earlier disasters before moving on to confront the needs created by subsequent events.

The Emergency Watershed Protection Program provides support for rehabilitating and restoring watersheds in areas affected by wildfires and other natural disasters. Udall has been a strong advocate for ensuring that the Emergency Watershed Protection Program is adequately funded to help Colorado communities whose water sources were affected by the 2012 fire season.

Earlier this year, Udall and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced an amendment to the U.S. House of Representative’s proposal to keep the government running for the next six months, commonly referred to as the Continuing Resolution, to secure emergency funding for the EWP program. In August, Udall urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to consider emergency supplemental funding for the EWP program.

Ten days ago, Udall led a letter with Bennet and U.S. Representatives Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) urging the president to include the Emergency Watershed Protection Program in his request to Congress.

By: Mike Saccone
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