Udall, Bingaman & Luján Request Swift Action to Help Santa Clara Pueblo
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Tom Udall, Jeff Bingaman and Congressman Ben Ray Luján today urged federal agency leaders to swiftly release funding to Santa Clara Pueblo following new flooding that prompted Pueblo Gov. Walter Dasheno to issue another disaster declaration this week.
In a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, FEMA Administrator William Fugate and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo Ellen Darcy, the New Mexico officials asked that federal funding dedicated for flood mitigation and restoration efforts be swiftly released to the tribe.
"Unfortunately, the threats of flooding came true with heavy rains in the area this past week," the federal lawmakers wrote. "We are all deeply concerned with the safety and security of the Santa Clara Pueblo and the surrounding communities, and demand your attention in this matter."
The senators and congressman pointed out that the tribe has only received a small portion of federal funding to aid in flood mitigation and recovery efforts.
"To date, the Santa Clara Pueblo has received only $379,000, a fraction of their requested $31 million. Additionally, this allocated funding has already been flagged for specific uses, and more is desperately needed. We are writing to urge FEMA to act quickly in distributing funds to the Santa Clara Pueblo," they wrote.
Udall was at Santa Clara Pueblo last Saturday to tour the recovery efforts following the 2011 Las Conchas Fire when monsoon rains began falling. Gov. Dasheno and other pueblo officials toured the senator through the pueblo canyon to see ponds that had filled with sediment transferred during recent storms. For photos of Udall's visit, click here.
Below is the text of the letter:
July 13, 2012
Dear Secretary Salazar, Administrator Fugate, and Assistant Secretary Darcy:
Thank you for the continued support your departments and agencies have provided to the Santa Clara Pueblo, and the tribes and communities of New Mexico that have been affected by the Las Conchas Fire and the subsequent environmental damage it has caused.
As you are aware, the Las Conchas Fire of 2011 caused tremendous damage and the after-effects of this damage to communities within and surrounding the Santa Clara Pueblo are continuing to be felt. On Wednesday, July 11, 2012, Governor Walter Dasheno declared a state of emergency for the Santa Clara Pueblo due to extreme flooding in the Las Conchas Canyon. To date, the Santa Clara Pueblo has received only $379,000, a fraction of their requested $31 million. Additionally, this allocated funding has already been flagged for specific uses, and more is desperately needed. We are writing to urge FEMA to act quickly in distributing funds to the Santa Clara Pueblo.
The Pueblo has requested funding from the Flood Control Advanced Measures program from the Army Corps of Engineers to build up flood defenses as well as watershed remediation activities from the BIA. We urge all federal agencies that have jurisdiction over pending requests by Santa Clara Pueblo to act with urgency so that the Pueblo and its residents can make proper safeguards for the Pueblo during monsoon season.
Each of us have visited the affected area recently and seen firsthand the damages caused by the fires of last summer, and the potential threats of flooding. Unfortunately, the threats of flooding became reality with heavy rains in the area this past week. We are all deeply concerned about the safety and security of the Santa Clara Pueblo and the surrounding communities, and demand your attention in this matter. Thank you for your attention and for swift action on behalf of the Santa Clara Pueblo and the tribes and communities in New Mexico.
U.S. Senator Tom Udall
U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman
U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján