February 8, 2023

Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire recovery bill passes Senate

Benjamin Hale

Rio La Casa flows through an area burned by the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill on Wednesday that would provide short-term, no-interest loans to help rebuild or replace infrastructure that was damaged or destroyed during the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire or by the flooding and debris flows resulting from last year’s burn.

SB 6 is sponsored by senators Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, and Liz Stefanics, D-Cerillos, as well as representatives Ambrose Castellano, D-Las Vegas, and Joseph Sanchez, D-Alcalde. It now heads to the House.

The bill appropriates $100 million to provide these loans and, if passed, would become effective 60 days after receiving the governor’s signature.

“We definitely have urgent need within the area that was adversely affected by the fires,” Campos said.

While the federal government will be providing funds to assist in the recovery efforts, those dollars will take longer to reach the impacted communities than the state money.

The loans could help with things like upgrading filtration systems at water treatment plants to address additional runoff.

Prior to the vote, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, emphasized that the funding is needed to address basic infrastructure.

“Somos una familia, una familia buena,” Campos said prior to the vote. “So the bottom line with it is we are going forward as a good family. We’re all in this together.”

The bill has received wide bipartisan support throughout the session, passing the Senate Finance Committee on a 10-0 vote and the Senate Conservation Committee on a 6-0 vote.