August 9, 2023

Biden amends disaster declaration for 2022 fires

USFS fire investigation

The first photo taken by a lookout shows the Cerro Pelado fire on April 22.

President Joe Biden amended an emergency declaration on Tuesday stemming from last year’s fires that increased the federal government’s share of costs related to the Cerro Pelado Fire.

Under the amended declaration, the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs for emergency protective measures.

This comes after an investigation found that the U.S. Forest Service’s winter burn piles ignited during high spring wind conditions, leading to the Cerro Pelado Fire.

“I am grateful to President Biden for recognizing the federal government’s responsibility to cover the costs associated with this disaster caused by the U.S. Forest Service’s mismanagement of a prescribed burn,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement Tuesday. “The victims of the Cerro Pelado fire are still recovering, and I encourage FEMA to get this money out the door as quickly as possible so that impacted New Mexicans can rebuild their communities.”

Federal funding assists the state in recovery efforts including addressing mud flows from the burn scars.

Biden amended the declaration a day before visiting New Mexico.