Heinrich, Luján, Leger Fernández Welcome $6 Million for Wildfire Recovery
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) announced over $6,618,321 in federal funding to San Miguel County for reimbursement for county road repairs as a result of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire. The grant now awaits distribution by the New Mexico’s Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management.
“I will not stop fighting until all New Mexicans impacted by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire are made whole again, and this investment takes us one step closer to getting this done,” said Heinrich. “These funds will help San Miguel County continue to rebuild and recover after coming out of pocket to repair damaged roads as a result of the fire and subsequent flooding and straight-line winds. It’s now up to the State of New Mexico to see these funds are delivered to this community as soon as possible.”
“From New Mexicans’ livelihoods, small businesses, and the local roads connecting them, the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire and the flooding that followed devastated San Miguel County. In order to jumpstart their recovery, they’ve had to pay out of their own pockets to begin much-needed infrastructure upgrades for damaged roads,” said Luján. “I’m proud this critical investment of more than $6 million will reimburse this community for repairing roads.”
“The Hermit’s Peak Fire caused damage that will affect our beloved communities for generations. I’m grateful San Miguel County will receive over $6 million to rebuild the roads that connect homes, businesses, and our beautiful forests,” said Leger Fernández. “I will continue to work to hold the federal government accountable for all of the costs our families and communities have paid to recover from the most destructive wildfire in New Mexico history.”
Heinrich, Luján, and Leger Fernández have fought tirelessly to ensure New Mexicans receive the resources necessary to recover and rebuild from the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, pressing top Senate leaders and Biden Administration officials to ensure investments reach those in need.
In June, Heinrich, Luján, and Leger Fernández announced two new actions taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in helping New Mexicans recover from the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire following months of advocacy.
The announcement included a new partnership with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), providing claimants with the option to request a NRCS conservation and restoration plan, tailored to recovering from the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire and subsequent flooding, to include cost estimates that can be utilized by the Claims Office to process claims quickly and efficiently. Additionally, the Congressional delegation welcomed over $265 million from USDA’s Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program to help with wildfire recovery efforts.
In May, Heinrich, Luján, and Leger Fernández sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell expressing concern over the prolonged delay in finalizing the regulations for the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Claims Office.
Heinrich, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Luján, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, secured funding in the Omnibus Appropriations Agreement for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) to support critical U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) emergency disaster programs. Heinrich also garnered additional support from U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shalanda Young, who included these programs in OMB’s disaster supplemental request.
In a bipartisan letter last year, Heinrich and Luján called on then Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Richard Shelby to prioritize supplemental funding for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program and the Emergency Forest Restoration Program at levels that meet USDA estimates. The New Mexico delegation successfully increased funding for these important programs.
While the fires were ongoing, the Congressional delegation secured 100 percent coverage of the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program. Senator Heinrich requested that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack take this action during a key Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on May 10. Senator Luján also requested that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack take this action during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on May 26. Representative Leger Fernández also requested President Biden’s and Secretary Vilsack’s commitment to cover 100% of the cost-share for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program in New Mexico.
Following the devastating Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire in April 2022, New Mexico’s Congressional Democrats secured $3.95 billion to help New Mexicans recover and rebuild. The funding established the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Claim’s Office at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).