Post-fire funds grow scarce

BY HEATHER MOYER | Pine Valley, CO | August 4, 2000


Only now, other

fire-ravaged areas may not have any money to protect their land.

"We've been pretty lucky," said Nyle Jordre, an economist for the National Resource Conservation

Service (NRCS) in Colorado. "But from now on, there will hardly be any money left for other fires

around the U.S." Originally, the residents of Pine Valley thought they had lost out on any possible funds

that could come from the $1.4 million Emergency Watershed Program because that bill was tied to a

military spending bill that stalled in Congress. Luckily, said Jordre, NRCS in Washington, D.C., was able

to "scour" up some more money to help the residents protect the over 1,200 acres designated as

'high-erosion' areas.

Residents are certainly counting themselves lucky as many only have fire insurance and not flood

insurance. Congress is now in recess until the first of September, which Jordre said could cause

problems for all the other fire areas in the US since they might not see any assistance money for a while.

The NRCS is responsible for sharing 75% of the work when fixing highly-eroded areas. The other 25%

had to come from sources sought out by the Soil Conservation District in CO.

The other groups that came to the rescue with the needed money include the Denver Water Board, the

City of Aurora, and the State of Colorado. Jordre said they've had many volunteers helping out with

the reseeding and erosion protection.

Last Saturday alone, Jordre said almost 200 people, from local churches to local Girl Scout troops, helped

lay down hay and seed. All the work in the area is not yet finished, according to Jordre. "We just started

a contract this week to get some major work done, such as tree-felling and reseeding," he said. "It will

take another three weeks to finish that. It takes time, this work doesn't just get done overnight." The Hi

Meadow wildfire burned almost 11,000 acres and destroyed 51 homes back in June.

Elsewhere across the US, the wildfire picture isn't getting any better. Some 75,000 lightning strikes in the

west over the last 24-hour period sparked more than 400 new fires. More disaster struck in Nevada as a

helicopter assigned to a fire in the northeastern part of the state crashed yesterday, killing one and

injuring three others. The Blodgett Trailhead fire near Hamilton, Montana, is ahead of firefighters as it

grew to 1,800 acres, which caused another 100 homes to be evacuated.

A state of emergency was declared also because of the heavy smoke. In Utah nearly 71,000 acres are

engulfed in flames. Firefighters there are waiting for help from the Utah National Guard. Firefighting

resources are still stretching but the National Interagency Fire Center reports that ten firefighting crews

were requested from Canada to help out with huge wildfires in Montana.

As some wildfires are contained, between 10 and 15 crews can be reassigned to other fires. Almost

20,000 civilian and military firefighters are fighting the fires in the US. As of Thursday, there were 60

large fires burning in the west. The forecast is not looking very positive with more hot and dry

conditions predicted for most of the west. To date, nearly 62,000 wildfires have burned almost 4 million

acres. Officials are calling it the worst fire season in 50 years.


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