New Mexico Delegation Secures $2M from FEMA for Watershed Restoration After Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire

by | May 1, 2024 | Trinidad Coloado

The New Mexico Congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján, alongside U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández, Melanie Stansbury, and Gabe Vasquez, has successfully secured nearly $2 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding. This significant financial support is designated for developing a comprehensive Watershed Restoration Plan targeting the areas adversely affected by the catastrophic 2022 Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire.

This financial initiative is part of the broader Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act, which was vigorously advocated for by the New Mexico delegation. The act underscores a commitment to addressing the aftermath of what is considered the most severe fire in the state’s history.

Senator Heinrich expressed his satisfaction with the allocation, emphasizing the strategic importance of the funding: “I’m pleased to welcome nearly $2 million to help restore the watersheds damaged by the worst fire in our state’s history. This funding provides us an opportunity to build a more resilient watershed that our communities can depend on. I will continue fighting to make sure that New Mexico families and communities impacted by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire make a full recovery.”

Echoing this sentiment, Senator Luján highlighted the broader environmental benefits of the funding, “Furthering New Mexico’s recovery from the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon wildfire means investing in land restoration to protect our environment. I’m proud to welcome this critical FEMA investment of nearly $2 million to develop a watershed restoration plan to repair the damage done to our environment and help guard against toxic waste and contaminants.”

Representative Leger Fernández commented on the community impact and the ongoing commitment of the federal government: “I’m happy to welcome $1.9 million from FEMA to help repair watersheds that were damaged by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire and the floods that followed. As New Mexicans continue to rebuild after the fire ravaged our beautiful communities, forests, acequias, and intergenerational homes, the federal government must do everything in its power to restore the land and water one acre at a time and compensate all victims.”

Representative Stansbury reflected on the deep connection New Mexicans have with their environment, underscoring the importance of the new funds: “In New Mexico, we are deeply connected to our lands and waters, and this additional funding will help our communities restore our land and watersheds. This additional funding will ensure a more prosperous and resilient future for generations to come.”

Representative Vasquez stressed the importance of continued vigilance and accountability in governmental support: “I am proud to welcome funding to restore the watersheds impacted by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon wildfires. While I welcome this federal funding, we must continue to ensure New Mexicans are compensated for the damages. I remain committed to holding the federal government accountable for causing one of the most devastating fires in New Mexico’s history.”

The comprehensive Watershed Restoration Plan will include:

  1. A detailed land and water resource inventory to identify crucial factors such as land use, climate patterns, HUC-12 watersheds, impaired waters, soils, topography, floodplain areas, debris flow modeling, critical infrastructure, risk assessment, recreational information, fish and wildlife habitat, and flood vulnerability and inundation maps for various flood frequencies.
  2. A watershed resource and hydrologic assessment aimed at analyzing resource conditions across the 42 watersheds directly impacted by the fire.

The data gathered will be synthesized into detailed reports that will drive the formulation and adoption of the watershed restoration plan, serving as a foundational document for future watershed management activities.

Senator Heinrich, along with Senators Luján and Representative Leger Fernández, have been steadfast in their efforts to ensure New Mexicans receive the necessary resources to recover and rebuild post-disaster, advocating with Senate leaders and the Biden Administration to make sure these investments are effectively allocated. Collectively, the delegation has secured a total of $3.95 billion to aid in recovery efforts, including establishing the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Claim’s Office at FEMA.

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