Emergency Watershed Protection Program

Statement

By:  Ben Lujan, Jr.
Date: July 20, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. LUJÁN. Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of important conversations that are taking place today, but it's important that we talk about what has happened in New Mexico recently.

New Mexico has been hit by a series of wildfires during this extremely dry fire season. Many communities have been threatened by fires as families have lost their homes and livestock and tribal lands have been damaged.

At a time when many counties are struggling with a drought, the fire
damage to our watersheds, which provide New Mexico with the majority of its surface water, has impacted drinking water supplies and increased the threat of floods during monsoon season.

With the Midwest recovering from floods and tornados and the West battling fires and drought, the current resources available to fight these disasters are simply not enough. Funds for the Natural Resource Conservation Service's Emergency Watershed Protection program, which assist with the protection of watersheds that have been impacted by natural disasters, have almost been depleted as a result of the disasters around the country. It's vital that we provide more resources for this critical program that can strengthen watersheds affected by the combination of fire, damage, high temperature, and lack of rainfall.

I encourage my colleagues to support efforts to address funding shortfalls to the Emergency Watershed Protection program so we can help our communities recover.