Frequently Asked Questions
What type of federal support will we receive for the East Troublesome Fire recovery efforts?
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is implementing the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program to provide federal assistance on five of the 2020 fires including the East Troublesome Fire to relieve imminent hazards to life and property. NRCS is working with the Grand County and Northern Water to reduce erosion, sedimentation and threats from future flooding in affected areas of the East Troublesome Fire. NRCS, via EWP, has allocated $47 million dollars of construction and technical assistance monies statewide to EWP sponsors to address impacts from the 2020 fires.
Who are the local sponsors of the NRCS EWP Program?
The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program requires a local public agency to be a sponsor. Grand County and Northern Water are serving in that capacity and are acting as co-sponsors covering different geographic areas of the affected area.
What do EWP sponsors do?
Sponsors administer federal EWP funds, secure required matching funds, obtain necessary permits and landowner permissions, finalize project designs, and oversee construction and arrange for operation and maintenance of projects.
What damages from the fire will be eligible for EWP funding?
Eligible projects must mitigate threats to life and property caused by impacts from watershed impairments and must be consistent with projects and regions identified in the NRCS Damage Survey Report. EWP projects cannot improve or repair existing damages.
Will funds be available directly to landowners to implement projects?
No funds will be given directly to landowners. Sponsors are responsible for paying qualified contractors to perform EWP projects to NRCS specifications. NRCS then reimburses the sponsor for up to 75 percent of those contractor bills.
What are the deadlines for this program?
Projects began as soon as EWP funding was approved, and an agreement signed by NRCS and EWP sponsors. Some projects have been completed, while others are still in the design and/or construction phase. Operations and maintenance may continue for the life of a project if necessary. For more information regarding project locations and statuses, visit our website map.
What can and can’t the NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program do on my property?
All projects implemented via the EWP Program must demonstrate a reduced threat to life and property; be economically feasible; and be environmentally and socially sound. In addition, per USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) guidance, all projects must be designed in accordance with NRCS conservation practice standard criteria as described in Conservation Practice Standards available in Section IV of the NRCS Field Office Technical Guide. All designs need to be approved by a professional engineer licensed in Colorado who will seal final engineering documents.
The EWP Program cannot be used:
- to address problems that existed prior to the disaster;
- to improve the level of protection above the existing level at the time of the disaster;
- for projects’ operation and maintenance;
- to repair private or public transportation facilities or utilities; or
- to install non-essential restoration work that will not reduce or eliminate adverse impacts from the natural disaster.
Have EWP Program projects already been selected?
We have investigated treatment strategies throughout the burn area and are in the process of refining treatments down to a site-specific level. Our primary focus at the moment is implementation of seeding and mulching, and sediment and debris management. As we implement these treatments, our engineering consultants are working on analysis and design of flood protection, as well as road and bridge protection. Landowners who are willing to participate can always contact the watershed recovery teams. Northern Water is overseeing Area A and can be reached at email@example.com and Grand County is overseeing Area B and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I know if my project was selected as part of the EWP Program funding?
Please view our website map which shows general locations and types of projects we are implementing. Please note that the map is meant for illustrative purposes only. Points on the map represent general areas for treatment only and are not site-specific projects. We have been refining treatments down to the parcel-specific level and contacting homeowners for permission if a proposed project impacts their property.
If there is a marker on the map on my property, should I wait to do any flood mitigation until the EWP projects are known?
There is nothing that should stop a landowner from doing flood protection or any other protection on their land prior to implementation of EWP projects, even if their property was identified in the damage survey reports. However, any work done outside of the EWP Program will be at the expense of the landowner.
What does the timeline look like for EWP Program projects and locations?
Implementation of EWP projects began in the summer of 2021. We expect to wrap up the majority of projects by this fall and early next spring. Please visit the Fire Recovery Project Map for additional details and general locations and types of projects.
Are you collaborating with Rocky Mountain National Park on any projects?
The EWP Program does not cover watershed restoration within Rocky Mountain National Park. Their restoration work is focused on the priorities they have identified in their Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) report. Typically, it is focused on their infrastructure, hazardous trees on trails, roads and more.
In regard to the EWP Program funding, how much has been allotted at this time?
NRCS worked with Northern Water and Grand County to identify approximately $35 million of eligible EWP projects within areas affected by the East Troublesome Fire. EWP provides funding for 75 percent of construction costs, with a remaining 25 percent match to be secured by the sponsors. NRCS has awarded the full federal match (75 percent) to cover the $35 million in construction costs, as well as over $4 million for engineering and design. Funding was split between Area A (Northern Water) and Area B (Grand County), and a small amount was retained by NRCS to cover its costs for engineering and program administration support. The 25 percent non-federal match is being funded via the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s special release of their Colorado Watershed Restoration Grant Program.
As work continues on the EWP projects, do you anticipate any issues for boaters or fishermen in regard to the snow melt and rain that may add sediment or debris into Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir or Lake Granby?
We expect to see degradation in water quality, significant input of sediment and debris that may impact recreation on the water bodies. It is difficult to predict exactly the extent of these impacts as it will highly depend on the type of storm events we see this summer and a variety of other factors. The U.S. Forest Service manages recreation on Shadow Mountain, Willow Creek and Granby Reservoirs, and we are not aware of what their plans might be in the context of post-fire impacts.
What work is being done on U.S. Forest Service lands?
The USFS has begun execution of their post-fire BAER plan, which includes protection of USFS infrastructure. We are working with the USFS to identify additional watershed restoration treatments that may be eligible on National Forest System lands. These projects require design and engineering, proper permits and agreements with the USFS, as well as additional sources of funding. We have secured funding and source material to implement approximately 2,200 acres of aerial mulching in the Supply Creek watershed. This is scheduled to occur in fall 2021. We will continue working with the USFS and other partners over the winter to finalize plan sets and seek funding so that additional treatments may begin in spring 2022.
How can I learn more?
Stay tuned to this website as we'll share the latest news and project updates here. Learn more on our Outreach page about other opportunities.