Ute Pass in line for federal funding

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In a frightening time for weather watchers in Ute Pass, legislation passed by the House of Representatives and the U. S. Senate March 20 offers potential good news. In line to be part of the $65.5 million Emergency Watershed Protection Program, Ute Pass is in dire need of recovery projects stemming from the Waldo Canyon Fire.

“Communities in Colorado will finally be able to complete these vital recovery projects that will protect drinking water and watershed infrastructure,” writes Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, in an email. “Colorado's congressional delegation worked together to secure these resources and I am glad we finally have resolution for the state. Colorado is ready to put these resources to work.”

The total funds apply to projects in 18 states; Colorado requested $17.6 million to help repair watersheds damaged by the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires last summer.

El Paso County commissioner Sallie Clark worked hard to thrust Ute Pass into the congressional limelight and is credited with helping to secure the funding. “With this funding, we'll be better able to prepare for our own eventual hurricane-type event,” Clark writes in an email. “While local agencies are doing what they can to mitigate impacts, it's also important for residents to take responsibility of being prepared and developing individual plans for dealing with potential flood events.”

While Colorado Democratic senators Bennet and Mark Udall kept the issue in front of the Congress, Republican congressman Cory Gardner was involved in the House to get bipartisan support.

El Paso County officials will be holding several community-preparedness meetings for residents, the dates to be provided.