Congresswoman Leger Fernández Responds to Report that USFS Caused the Calf Canyon Fire 

Editor’s Note: Two days after I wrote the May 25 article about the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fire, in which I said the USFS had not yet determined the cause of the Calf Canyon Fire, the agency released its findings that this fire, like the Hermits Peak Fire, was started from a prescribed fire, a pile burn from January that remained dormant until April. This is New Mexico Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez’s response. Pay particular attention to what kinds of compensation are included in the congressional bill she’s introduced and follow its progress—hopeful progress—through the House of Representatives.

May 27, 2022 
Contact: Nairka J. Treviño Müller 
Nairka.Trevino@mail.house.gov 

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO – Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández released the following statement after the U.S. Forest Service announced that it caused the Calf Canyon Fire. The Calf Canyon Fire was caused by a USFS prescribed pile burn that occurred in January, 2022 and remained dormant until it reignited in April, 2022. 

“The news today that the USFS also started the Calf Canyon fire adds to our sense of outrage. The destruction these two fires caused is immeasurable and will be felt for generations. The federal government must take responsibility for the damage both fires caused,” said Leger Fernández. “I will continue to work to push my legislation, the Hermit’s Peak Fire Assistance Act, through Congress and ensure that everyone affected by both the Hermit’s Peak and Calf Canyon Fires is fully compensated. While we can never replace the beauty and history consumed by these fires, we must fully compensate individuals for their loss of property, income, grazing, and other costs associated with these fires.” 

The Hermit’s Peak Fire started as a result of an approved prescribed fire plan ignited by the U.S. Forest Service fire personnel in the Santa Fe National Forest. Hermit’s Peak Fire subsequently merged with the Calf Canyon Fire to become the second-largest fire in New Mexico’s history and both fires were reported as the Hermit’s Peak Fire or the Hermit’s Peak Fire/Calf Canyon Fire. The Congresswoman introduced the Hermit’s Peak Fire Assistance Act (H.R. 7721) to compensate New Mexico residents and business owners impacted by the Hermit’s Peak Fire. The Congresswoman will make any necessary changes to her bill to ensure everyone affected by both the Hermit’s Peak Fire and the Calf Canyon Fire is fully compensated. 

Allowable damages under The Hermit’s Peak Fire Assistance Act (H.R. 7721): 

● Loss of property, including: an uninsured or underinsured property loss; a decrease in the value of real property; damage to physical infrastructure including irrigation infrastructure; a cost resulting from lost subsistence from hunting, fishing, firewood gathering, timbering, grazing, or agricultural activities conducted on land damaged by the fire; a cost of reforestation or revegetation on Tribal or non-Federal land; 

● Business loss, to include: damage to tangible assets or inventory; business interruption losses; overhead costs; and employee wages for work not performed; 

● Financial loss, to include: increased mortgage interest costs; in insurance deductible; a temporary living or relocation expense; lost wages or personal income; emergency staffing expenses; debris removal and other cleanup costs; a premium for flood insurance; and costs for efforts to reduce the risk of wildfire, flood, or other natural disaster in the counties specified in the major disaster declaration; and 

● Any other damages that the FEMA Administrator determines to be appropriate for inclusion as property, business, or financial loss. 

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