February 20, 2023

Governor signs Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon recovery funding bill

Benjamin Hale

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

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation that would provide $100 million in zero-interest short-term loans to communities impacted by the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire on Monday.

These loans are intended to help with repairs and replacement of damaged infrastructure, which she said will empower the communities as they continue to heal from the largest blaze in New Mexico’s history.

The bill passed with the emergency clause, which allows it to become effective immediately upon signing.

While the federal government has taken responsibility for the fire, the money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been slow to come and spring runoff is fast approaching. Those getting these loans must have previous FEMA approval. Those who get the loans will repay the state with FEMA funds when those arrive..

SB 6 sponsors Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, and Sen. Liz Stefanics, D-Cerillos, as well as Rep. Ambrose Castellano, D-Las Vegas, and Rep. Joseph Sanchez, D-Alcalde, attended the bill signing ceremony.

“This legislation speaks loud and clear: New Mexicans come first,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “The passage of this critical bipartisan legislation exemplifies how swiftly we can come together to serve the people of New Mexico, providing immediate assistance to communities affected by these devastating fires.”