Update : Federal Partners Continue to Support Response Efforts Combating Western Wildfires AGENCIES continue to support efforts to protect life, public safety and aid in community recovery from wildfires and subsequent flash flooding in multiple Western states.
PoliticalNews.me - Jul 12,2012 - Update : Federal Partners Continue to Support Response Efforts Combating Western Wildfires
WASHINGTON, -The U.S. Forest Service, Department of the Interior, Department of Defense and FEMA continue to support efforts to protect life, public safety and aid in community recovery from wildfires and subsequent flash flooding in multiple Western states. On June 28, President Obama approved a disaster declaration for Colorado providing additional support to state and local officials responding to the fires, as well as federal assistance for individuals affected by the High Park and Waldo Canyon Fires.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today announced a package of program improvements that will deliver faster and more flexible assistance to farmers and ranchers devastated by natural disasters, including wildfires. Secretary Vilsack announced three significant improvements to decades-old USDA programs and processes related to Secretarial disaster designations: a final rule that simplifies the process for Secretarial disaster designations and will result in a 40 percent reduction in processing time for most counties affected by disasters; a reduced interest rate for emergency loans; and lowers the payment reduction on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands qualified for emergency haying and grazing in 2012.
A natural disaster designation makes all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans. The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to designate disaster counties to make disaster assistance programs available to farmers and ranchers. During times of need, USDA has historically responded to disasters across the country by providing direct support, disaster assistance, technical assistance, and access to credit. USDA's low-interest emergency loans have helped producers recover from losses due to drought, flooding, wildfire and other natural disasters for decades.
The U.S. Forest Service today reported that as the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado is fully contained after burning more than 18,200 acres west of Colorado Springs and destroying over 340 homes. Reassignment of resources is continuing as personnel and assets are being moved to support other suppression activities throughout the West.
Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) specialists are on the ground in Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada, to provide emergency stabilization to prevent additional damage to life, property or natural resources. They will be looking for changes in soil properties and the soil's capacity to absorb precipitation to mitigate erosion potential. BAER teams are staffed by specially trained professionals: hydrologists, soil scientists, engineers, biologists, vegetation specialists, archeologists, and others who rapidly evaluate the burned area and prescribe emergency stabilization treatments.
The recent rains and high humidity across the Rocky Mountain and Northern Rockies Regions has brought some relief to those regions, while other areas of the country continue to experience critical fire weather and dry lightning. Today, there are 36 large wildfires reported across the United States in the states of Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Missouri, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Oklahoma, and Alaska.
11 of the 36 large wildfires reported across the United States are burning in Idaho, where high winds and dry lightning from