Neguse pushes for wildfire recovery funds in COVID-19 relief package

By: - December 4, 2020 12:44 pm

A view of the Cameron Peak Fire on Oct. 10, 2020. (Cameron Peak Fire Media)

Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse will urge congressional leadership to include funding for a range of wildfire prevention and recovery programs in any potential coronavirus relief legislation, his office said Friday.

“Communities that have been fighting the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19 are now also … beginning the long journey of recovering from catastrophic wildfire,” reads a forthcoming letter from Neguse and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden to House and Senate leaders. “Congress has the power to not only help these communities recover, but also to make federal investments in sustainable forest management to ensure they are better prepared for the next season.”

On Monday more than a dozen U.S. House and Senate members announced a push for a bipartisan coronavirus relief package. Neguse’s letter requests that any relief package include hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for efforts like the U.S. Forest Service’s Hazardous Fuels Program, which aims to reduce wildfire risk by thinning overgrown forests. It also requests funding for Neguse’s proposal for a “21st Century Conservation Corps,” modeled after a New Deal-era program that employed millions of jobless Americans on public-lands projects across the West.

“This funding will help restore forest health and address the rise in unemployment due to COVID-19,” Neguse’s letter said. “By scaling up the existing network of Service and Conservation Corps, a revitalized 21st Century Conservation Corps will help employ hundreds of thousands of young Americans and complete necessary project work on public lands and in communities across the country.”

Editor’s note: This story was corrected at 1:13 p.m. Dec. 4 to reflect that Neguse’s letter to congressional leadership is expected to be sent Monday, Dec. 7.

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Chase Woodruff
Chase Woodruff

Reporter Chase Woodruff covers the environment, the economy and other stories for Colorado Newsline.