IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
August 2, 2022
Mr. Luján (for himself and Mr. Heinrich) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
To amend the Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 to waive the cost share requirement under the emergency forest restoration program for land damaged by the Hermit's Peak/Calf Canyon Fire.
This Act may be cited as the
Hermit's Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Forest Restoration Program Relief Act.
Congress finds that—
on April 6, 2022, the Forest Service initiated the Las Dispensas-Gallinas prescribed burn on Federal land in the Santa Fe National Forest in San Miguel County, New Mexico, when erratic winds were prevalent in the area, which was also suffering from severe drought after many years of insufficient precipitation;
on April 6, 2022, the prescribed burn, which became known as the
Hermit’s Peak Fire, exceeded the containment capabilities of the Forest Service, was declared a wildfire, and spread to other Federal and non-Federal land;
on April 19, 2022, the Calf Canyon Fire, also in San Miguel County, New Mexico, began burning on Federal land and was later identified as the result of a pile burn in January 2022 that remained dormant under the surface before reemerging;
on April 27, 2022, the Hermit’s Peak Fire and the Calf Canyon Fire merged, and both fires were reported as the
Hermit’s Peak Fire or the
Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire;
by May 2, 2022, the fire had grown in size and caused evacuations in multiple villages and communities in San Miguel County and Mora County, including at the San Miguel county jail, the State’s psychiatric hospital, the United World College, and New Mexico Highlands University;
on May 4, 2022, the President issued a major disaster declaration for the counties of Colfax, Mora, and San Miguel, New Mexico;
on May 20, 2022, Chief of the Forest Service Randy Moore ordered a 90-day review of prescribed burn policies to reduce the risk of wildfires and ensure the safety of the communities involved;
the Forest Service has assumed responsibility for the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire;
the fire resulted in the loss of Federal, State, local, Tribal, and private property; and
the United States should compensate the victims of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire.
The purpose of this Act is to ensure that victims of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire are eligible to receive 100 percent funding for the cost of carrying out emergency measures under the emergency forest restoration program under section 407 of the Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2206).
Definition of Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire
In this Act, the term Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire means—
the fire resulting from the initiation by the Forest Service of a prescribed burn in the Santa Fe National Forest in San Miguel County, New Mexico, on April 6, 2022;
the pile burn holdover resulting from a prescribed burn by the Forest Service in January 2022, which reemerged on April 19, 2022; and
the merger of the fires described in paragraphs (1) and (2), reported as the
Hermit’s Peak Fire or the
Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire.
Waiver of cost share requirement for land damaged by Hermit's Peak/Calf Canyon Fire
The Secretary of Agriculture shall waive the cost share requirement under subsection (d) of section 407 of the Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2206) with respect to a payment provided under that section for restoration of land damaged by the Hermit's Peak/Calf Canyon Fire.