Idaho Mountain Express: County Seeks Post-Fire Rehab Funds

by

As residents of the Wood River Valley pick up the pieces following a devastating fire season, Blaine County is looking for ways to help, potentially drawing on one or more government programs to provide funding to rehabilitate private property damaged by the Beaver Creek Fire this summer. 

The Idaho Mountain Express reports that funding sources may include the federal Emergency Watershed Protection Program, administered by the National Resources Conservation Service; an interagency Flood Risk Management Program administered by the Idaho Silver Jackets; and Blaine County’s Land, Water and Wildlife Program.

The Emergency Watershed Protection Program, which county commissioners agreed to start pursuing, requires a 25 percent match from the county. The program is intended to “help people ... [relieve] imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms and other natural occurrences,” according to NRCS’s website.

Funding could be used to remove debris from stream channels, road culverts and bridges; reshape eroded banks; fix damaged drainage facilities; establish cover on critically eroding lands; repair levees and structures; and restore conservation practices.

The Idaho Silver Jackets is a multi-agency organization. Its mission is to “provide assistance in identifying and prioritizing actions to reduce the threat, venerability and consequences of flooding.”

Meanwhile, Blaine County’s Land, Water and Wildlife levy has $2.8 million left in the fund.

County Disaster Services Coordinator Chuck Turned said at a meeting Tuesday that the county will have to wait until the Burned Area Emergency Response Team’s analysis is done for government agencies to fully determine what funding is available to help property owners.