Feds on Track for Record in BAER Spending?

Here’s the link and below is an excerpt.

Nearly $25 million has already been spent to prepare for the immediate aftermath of this year’s wildfires, putting the U.S. Forest Service on track for another possible record year of spending on burned-area recovery efforts.

The formula for recovery is just as complicated as the factors — drought, decades of fire suppression and climate change — giving rise to more severe fires in the West, experts say.

“With the kinds of intensity we’ve seen on some of the recent fires, there is, for all practical purposes, permanent impairment of the ecosystem,” said Wally Covington, director of the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University.

He pointed specifically to last year’s Las Conchas Fire near Los Alamos, which burned through hundreds of square miles of tinder dry forest, destroyed dozens of homes and threatened one of the nation’s premier government laboratories.

Flooding from the Las Conchas burn scar still remains a concern.

On Wednesday night, a wall of water rushed down Santa Clara Canyon, washing away months of restoration work done by Santa Clara Pueblo and government contractors.

“Our prayers are that it does not get any worse than what it is,” Pueblo Gov. Walter Dasheno said.

In the canyon, post-fire flooding has moved car-sized boulders and toppled trees as if they were toothpicks.

“Until you’re on the ground and you see it, you can’t gauge how much stress it’s placing on our families,” Dasheno said, explaining that the pueblo sits at the mouth of the canyon.

Sherman was aware of the flooding near Santa Clara, but said there have been no reports of major flood damage related to the recent string of fires in New Mexico and Colorado.

Aside from those two states, Sherman said burned-area response specialists are working in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Contracts are being finalized for seeding and mulching, roads and trails are being stabilized, culverts are being prepped for higher flows of water and warning signs are going up.

On the massive Whitewater-Baldy Fire in southwestern New Mexico, seeding started Thursday on more than 26,000 acres and straw mulch will be spread over another 16,000 acres.

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