Utah areas ravaged by fire, flood to get emergency federal relief
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The aftermath of three major fires last year such as mud flows and flooding will be lessened somewhat with federal emergency watershed funding being awarded in Utah.
The areas that remain under threat from the Dump Fire in Saratoga Springs, in Emery County from the Seeley Fire and Millard County's Clay Springs Fire will collectively receive $7.6 million from the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.
In Emery County, it will be tight project deadline, but the $2.1 million it receives should come in time for a catch basin to be constructed in Huntington Canyon, preventing devastating mud flows that could come in this summer's monsoon season.
"What we are trying to do is protect everybody," said Emery County Commission Chairman Jeff Horrocks. "It is the monsoon season later in the year that has us concerned."
Last year's Seeley Fire burned more than 48,000 acres, leaving charred mountainous landscapes in its wake. Its lingering effects became just as damaging, with mud and debris that washed down the mountain in heavy rain, clogging Huntington Creek, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to a private farming operation and threatening the operation of the Huntington Power Plant.
Horrocks said he is hopeful the money will help counter any of those effects this summer through the installment of that upper basin and another down below.
The Emery County threat is just one of eight natural disasters in Utah being addressed through emergency watershed funding of $10.2 million provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Dave Brown, state conservationist in the Utah office, said the agency has received approval to begin work on the projects, which are scattered throughout the state from Utah County to Washington County, as well as in the Uintah Basin.
Friday's announcement of the money said the funding is directed to areas in response to damage caused by flooding, fires and wind storms.
A Natural Resources Conservation Service report earlier this year said the watershed in the mountains as a result of the Seeley Fire was wiped out, with effects that will linger for years to come.
Also heavily hit in terms of watershed were Oak City and Millard County, which are getting $3.5 million to help in reseeding burned areas in the Clay Springs Fire to help prevent flooding from Oak Creek and its tributaries.
Other recipients and projects include:
Carbon County, $500,000, to protect roads and homes from damaging debris and mud flows following the Seeley Fire.
Duchesne County, $500,000, to protect roads and homes from flooding following the Church Camp Fire.
San Juan County, $500,000, to protect a bridge where damage occurred following an intense thunderstorm.
Enoch City, $1 million, to protect roads, homes and infrastructure from future flood damage due to intense rainfall.
Washington County, $500,000, to protect infrastructure following floods resulting from heavy rainfall.
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