Projects to reduce the risk of wildfires and protect water sources in the U.S. West have created jobs and infused more money in local economies, researchers say, and they were funded by a partnership between governments and businesses that has become a model in other countries.
A team from the U.S. Geological Survey reviewed work being done in several counties along the New Mexico-Colorado border that make up the watershed of one of North America’s longest rivers, the Rio Grande.
The review shows how public-private partnerships could become a critical component for safeguarding the land and benefiting the economy amid the threat of federal funding cuts and worsening wildfires brought on by climate change.
The study focused on 2018, when the partnership, called the Rio Grande Water Fund, doled out $855,000 to contractors in the region. The spending supported an estimated 22 jobs, ranging from forest thinning to research, environmental consulting and fence removal.
Today, House Bill 386, helping better serve rural and remote communities by making location and organizational changes to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, passed the House. Sponsored by Rep. Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces), the bill seeks to better equip our invaluable emergency managers and to promote public safety by moving the Fire Marshal’s Office to the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM). House Bill 386 mirrors Senate Bill 245 sponsored by Senator William Burt (R-Alamogordo) who has long worked on this issue.
The State Fire Marshal Division is currently a part of the Public Regulation Commission (PRC). With the PRC based in Santa Fe, fire services in the state’s more rural and remote locations have reported lack of communication, staffing vacancies, various delays for investigations, and funding deficiencies.
Grant County Beat
A 69-year-old Roswell man and his four-legged friend, Link, are now homeless after fiery flames took over their home Monday.
“It started spreading faster, and I knew I couldn’t do anything about it,” said Joe Merritt. “The fire-- I felt so bad, the flames were about 3 ft. high.”
Merritt said he just finished making tacos, before things went south.
“I had a caregiver cause I'm mainly homebound, but she left and I'm not a cook,” he said. “I was hungry and I got some oil and put it in a pan for some corn tortillas to make tacos." “I made them and went to sit down in the living room and watch TV, but I forgot to turn the burner off-- and the oil got hot and caught fire.”
With nowhere to turn, Merritt said he fears the worst.
“I don’t know what I'm going to do,” he said. “To be honest with you, I'm scared, because I've always been able to take care of myself.”
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