Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the local sponsors? 

The program requires a local public agency to be a sponsor. Grand County and Northern Water will serve in that capacity and will act as cosponsors 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. 

How will projects be prioritized for funding? 

EWP sponsors are working with EWP partners to create criteria against which projects will be evaluated. It is very likely that not all qualifying projects will receive funding. 

How much money will be available for projects? 

The amount of funding for local projects is unknown and is determined by NRCS Headquarters in Washington D.C. Fire recovery funding needs for the East Troublesome Fire are competing against similar requests for other watershed recovery efforts in Colorado and across the nation. 

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 are expected to begin as soon as EWP funding is approved, and an agreement is signed by NRCS and EWP sponsors. Projects must be implemented within 220 days of NRCS funding approval. Operations and maintenance may continue for the life of a project if necessary. 

Will Shadow Mountain Reservoir be drained? 

No, Shadow Mountain Reservoir will not be drained. 

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 & 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 watershedrecovery@northernwater.org and Grand County is overseeing Area B and can be reached at watershedrecovery@co.grand.co.us.  

How do I know if my project was selected as part of the EWP Program funding?  

Please view the map on our website, which shows general locations and types of treatment strategies identified during the damage survey reports. 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 are currently in the process of refining treatments down to the parcel-specific level and homeowners will be contacted for permission if a proposed project would impact 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?  

During a virtual Town Hall conducted by the Grand County Watershed Recovery partners on April 8, Kyle Whitaker from Northern Water shared a slide on page 17 within his presentation that outlined a general phased implementation strategy. Because the field assessments were done with snow on the ground and to identify broad treatment strategies, the implementation details have yet to be worked out. We are actively working with our engineering consultants on analysis and design of each treatment. In general, practices that need a lower degree of analysis and design and are less challenging to construct will be implemented using the first allocations of NRCS EWP funding. It is unlikely that many treatments will be implemented by spring runoff.  

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?  

The damage survey reports were prepared to identify potential mitigation treatments. Estimated watershed restoration  costs are approximately $35 million. These were submitted to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) national headquarters on March 19 for funding approval. All treatments identified in the damage survey reports have been approved; however, due to limited EWP funding at the national level, funding will be released incrementally, with no guarantee of full funding. EWP provides funding for 75 percent of construction costs, with a remaining 25 percent match to be secured by the sponsors. NRCS has awarded $12 million for projects construction and $2.4 million for engineering and design. Funding was split between Area A (Northern Water) and Area B (Grand County), and a small amount will be retained by NRCS to cover its costs for engineering and program administration support. Sources of match funding have not been fully identified. 

This incremental distribution of funds over time makes it necessary to proceed with a phased implementation of projects, accounting for the level of analysis and design needed for each treatment practice and the timing of construction.

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 man 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. 

Will additional field visits occur at any time?  

As we continue working to refine treatment strategies and identify projects, additional field visits will be conducted throughout the burn area. Please look for information regarding the timing of those field visits. 

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.