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
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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