Funding comes after Hickenlooper, Bennet, Polis, and Neguse urged USFS to expedite resources last month
WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, and U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse welcomed $39 million from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to address post-fire recovery needs in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests (ARNF) from the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak fires. The funding will continue stabilization efforts on an additional 50,000 acres and begin long-term rehabilitation work such as road and trail repairs, reforestation, noxious weed containment, project planning, and recreation facility repairs. Last month, the leaders urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture and USFS to distribute funding and resources and expedite permitting to advance recovery projects for the ARNF.
“There is no wildfire season anymore—severe wildfires like the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak fires happen year-round. They destroy our lands; damage our watersheds; and put Colorado lives, homes, and businesses at risk. This funding will not only rehabilitate Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, but make them more resilient in the future,” said Hickenlooper.
“I’m grateful that the Forest Service answered our call to allocate additional funds and speed up recovery efforts after Colorado’s largest wildfires in history devastated the state, but our work is not done,” said Bennet. “To help our forests and affected communities fully recover, the Forest Service must continue to invest in the rehabilitation of this landscape and work with partners on the ground to accelerate recovery efforts. Washington also must do more to prevent wildfires in the first place – that starts with passing my Protect the West Act.”
“In Colorado, we know that wildfire season has been a year-round reality. We are focused on providing immediate and long-term support for recovery and rebuilding which is why we appreciate this federal support for critical needs including watershed recovery. We appreciate that the US Forest Service heard our calls to speed up this important funding which builds upon the state’s significant investments already made in the recovery of the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak Fires,” said Polis.
“The East Troublesome and Cameron Peak fires caused record-breaking destruction in communities across Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District. I am grateful to the USFS for seriously considering the concerns we raised—and allocating a significant level of federal support to the recovery of this watershed. Post-fire recovery needs can linger for decades after devastation, and in allocating this funding the USFS is continuing to prioritize the health and wellbeing of our lands and our people,” said Neguse.
In 2020, the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak fires became the two largest wildfires in Colorado’s history after burning over 400,000 acres and forcing thousands of Coloradans from their homes. Late last year, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Grand County, and the Cities of Greeley and Fort Collins identified a $228 million funding shortfall for the ARNF, despite the urgency to help communities and ecosystems recover from the fires and the need to invest in the long-term rehabilitation efforts to stabilize watersheds in the Forests.