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East Peak fire area recovery efforts should continue next month

by Eric Mullens
HUERFANO — Two different work crews are expected to begin some recovery and restoration projects in the East Peak fire area in early November, according to Huerfano County Administrator John Galusha.
Galusha told the Huerfano World Journal he is expecting a returned signed contract from state comptroller/auditor’s office concerning $195,000 earmarked for those efforts that were part of the $3,000,000 from the state’s Disaster Emergency Fund designated in Governor John Hickenlooper’s Disaster Declaration / Executive Order of June 21, 2013.
The $3 million is encumbered from the disaster fund to pay for fire suppression, response and recovery efforts. The $195,000 the county will see in the contract is for recovery and restoration.
Galusha said the county has already fronted $35,000 for post fire recovery projects including culvert installations in the fire area. Those projects will help mitigate the danger from future run-off problems in those areas where trees and ground cover were destroyed by the fire. The $35,000 will be reimbursed to the county as part of the $195,000 coming from the state, leaving $144,000 for future restoration and recovery projects.
Galusha said the funds will be coming from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs / Office of Emergency Management. The governor’s executive order said, “Included in the specified amount is $195,000 for recovery related to this disaster. These funds may be used to pay for disaster recovery resources as approved by the Director of the Office of Emergency Management to assist with state and local government costs incurred during and as a result of the current disaster emergency, including costs incurred by non-profit organizations on behalf of local government entities”.
The executive order authorizes and directs the OEM director to allocate the funding to the appropriate government agencies and execute awards, purchase orders, or other mechanisms to effect the allocation of the funds.
The executive order also says the funds shall remain available for this purpose for 18-months (from June 21, 2013), and any unexpended funds hall remain i the Disaster Emergency Fund.
Galusha said the efforts next month should include diagonal (tree) felling and seeding in the areas affected by the fire. He said the seeding will be some kind of ground cover that will help stabilize hillsides in the region like native grasses but will not include new tree planting.