Bennet, Gardner, Tipton advocate for wildfire funding for Grizzly Creek fire

Colorado's Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez, have asked the federal government to approve a cost-share arrangement that will help the city of Glenwood Springs with the Grizzly Creek fire.

The September 2 letter went to the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue and the Department of Agriculture's National Resources Conservation Service.

The city, the letter said, has asked for assistance under the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The Grizzly Creek fire has endangered vegetation, the watershed and the drinking water supplies "for years to come," the letter said.

The fire started August 10 and was human-caused. It  has now burned 32,464 acres and is 75% contained, according to Inciweb. The agency estimates a full containment date of October 18. 

The agency said that firefighters "capitalized on a soaking, overnight rainfall" between Monday night and early Tuesday. Nearly one-quarter of an inch of rain fell over the fire area over the course of several hours, which will "benefit firefighters working to subdue two pieces of active, stubborn fireline, as well as mop up the more passive sections."

The Bennet/Gardner/Tipton letter continued that the city has been forced to use a temporary emergency backup water diversion source. Once the fire has been contained, "immediate actions to reduce erosion, sedimentation and prevent flooding will be critical." The Colorado Water Conservation Board has estimated that it will take the watershed seven years to recover.

A watershed is an area of land in which all water drains to a common point, such as a larger river or stream. Colorado has four major watersheds and dozens of smaller ones; the watershed on the Western Slope drains to the Colorado River. 

The request by the city of Glenwood Springs asks that the NRCS cover 90% of the cost of projects for emergency mitigation with the city picking up the last 10%.

The costs to date of fighting the Grizzly Creek fire, according to Center Line, is estimated at $27.3 million.


By: Marianne Goodland

Colorado Politics