Provo, UT – Today, Representative John Curtis (R-UT), Deputy Republican Leader of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee, released the following statement after introducing legislation to allow counties to be paid retroactively for Emergency Watershed Protection work done after a project is approved, but before funds are dispersed:
“The effects of wildfire last long after the last flame has been extinguished. In many cases, the damage to our land, watersheds, and ecosystems can be seen for years. The Emergency Watershed Protection Program is an important tool to help our communities restore and recover watersheds following disaster. However, as is the case with many federal programs, projects are too often hindered by bureaucratic red tape, delaying important fire cleanup efforts.
I am proud to introduce the Funding Local Assistance and Recovery Efforts (FLARE) Act to allow restorative work to begin more quickly by ensuring counties and cities receive retroactive payments for work they complete on EWP projects during the time between the project being approved and funds being released.”
USDA Under Secretary Visit
Last month, Rep. Curtis wrote to the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources and Environment Under Secretary James Hubbard, requesting a visit to Utah (see here). They will be joined by Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Matthew Lohr as they tour fire and watershed damage and engage with local leaders as they look for ways to best coordinate efforts.
The full text of the letter is below:
The Honorable James Hubbard
Natural Resources and Environment
US Department of Agriculture
1400 Jefferson Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Under Secretary Hubbard:
I write to personally invite you to the State of Utah to visit sites affected by the devastating 2018 Fire Season and to participate in a roundtable with local leaders of the communities impacted by the fires.
As we enter the 2019 Fire Season, Utahns are still recovering from the damage from last year’s fires. I am encouraged by Secretary Perdue’s recent visit to Utah, his signing of a shared stewardship agreement with Governor Herbert, and the recent announcement of $20 million over four years to support and prioritize critical projects. I am hopeful these recent announcements facilitate and spur discussions on how we can achieve our mutual goals.
All levels of government must work together to have a meaningful impact on wildfire prevention and mitigation. The partnership between local, state, and federal leaders is vital to the safety of Americans, as well as the health of our public lands. I am looking forward to discussing with you, and Utah’s local leaders, about how we can all work together to prepare for wildfires, and quickly fix damage done by past disasters.
Thank you for your service at the United States Department of Agriculture. I appreciate your time and consideration, and look forward to your response and visit to the great State of Utah.