Here’s a link to a Denver Post story.
Below is an excerpt.
While the losses to homeowners are immediate and huge, the effect on the county’s tax base won’t be felt until 2014, Larimer County Assessor Steve Miller said.
Tax collections in 2012 were based on assessments conducted in 2010. The county will be reassessed this year to establish tax collections for 2014. In the meantime, tax bills for 2013 will reflect the fact that homes and adjacent structures burned.
“Say a home was there for five months and gone for the other seven,” Miller said, “we’ll prorate that amount.”
The recovery of lost tax collections will be slow, even if people do decide to return to the burn zone, Miller said.
Unlike the Waldo Canyon fire, which was concentrated in a Colorado Springs neighborhood, rural areas rebuild slowly. He cited the 2002 Hayman fire, which charred 137,760 acres in the mountains southwest of Denver and burned 132 homes.
“A lot of (the Hayman fire) area has still not come back to what it was beforehand, and that was what, 10 years now?” he said.
Another factor that influences how quickly an area recovers economically from a fire is what kind of structures were lost. The Waldo Canyon fire, which ripped through 347 homes in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, occurred in an area with higher real estate values than rural Larimer County. The value of those lost homes is estimated at $110 million.
“What burned here was some vacant land and some residential,” Miller said. “The Waldo Canyon fire, that burned up some very expensive real estate, whereas we had more moderate and older structures.”
Here’s the link and below is an excerpt.
Nearly $25 million has already been spent to prepare for the immediate aftermath of this year’s wildfires, putting the U.S. Forest Service on track for another possible record year of spending on burned-area recovery efforts.
The formula for recovery is just as complicated as the factors — drought, decades of fire suppression and climate change — giving rise to more severe fires in the West, experts say.
“With the kinds of intensity we’ve seen on some of the recent fires, there is, for all practical purposes, permanent impairment of the ecosystem,” said Wally Covington, director of the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University.
He pointed specifically to last year’s Las Conchas Fire near Los Alamos, which burned through hundreds of square miles of tinder dry forest, destroyed dozens of homes and threatened one of the nation’s premier government laboratories.
Flooding from the Las Conchas burn scar still remains a concern.
On Wednesday night, a wall of water rushed down Santa Clara Canyon, washing away months of restoration work done by Santa Clara Pueblo and government contractors.
“Our prayers are that it does not get any worse than what it is,” Pueblo Gov. Walter Dasheno said.
In the canyon, post-fire flooding has moved car-sized boulders and toppled trees as if they were toothpicks.
“Until you’re on the ground and you see it, you can’t gauge how much stress it’s placing on our families,” Dasheno said, explaining that the pueblo sits at the mouth of the canyon.
Sherman was aware of the flooding near Santa Clara, but said there have been no reports of major flood damage related to the recent string of fires in New Mexico and Colorado.
Aside from those two states, Sherman said burned-area response specialists are working in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Contracts are being finalized for seeding and mulching, roads and trails are being stabilized, culverts are being prepped for higher flows of water and warning signs are going up.
On the massive Whitewater-Baldy Fire in southwestern New Mexico, seeding started Thursday on more than 26,000 acres and straw mulch will be spread over another 16,000 acres.
Justin Scheck of the Wall Street Journal has the full story. Snips are below:
The U.S. Treasury Department plans to demand back more than $5 million it granted a Montana power plant that later filed for bankruptcy, in what would be a rare foray by the government into the courts to claw back job-creation funds distributed under the 2009 economic-stimulus package….
The Treasury paid Thompson River $6.5 million in 2010 from a piece of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act known as Section 1603 that reimbursed developers of renewable energy with cash payments equivalent to 30% of their projects’ costs. The program has given out more than $11 billion, the Treasury Department says….
The grant to Thompson River, majority-owned by a Minnesota private-equity firm, was to convert a coal-fired plant to burn wood, which is considered a “renewable” power source. But since receiving the money, the plant never operated either as a coal- or wood-burning plant, according to Montana regulators, and has produced neither power nor new jobs. It is now mothballed. It is not known how many new jobs the firm promised to create, or how many currently are employed at the plant….
Thompson River was an old coal-fired power plant on which a new ownership group, led by Wayzata, spent more than $20 million to bring into compliance with emissions rules and burn “clean coal,” said people familiar with the project. After finishing the work, said a person involved in the project, Wayzata announced that the plant would burn only wood—making it eligible for the Recovery Act money as long as the plant was technologically capable of producing power. But its owners found they couldn’t operate the plant profitably by just burning wood, said three people with knowledge of the project….
UPDATE: The Missoulian’s new columnist, George Ochenski, also takes a look at the Thompson River Biomass Debacle in today’s paper:
“It’s not hard to recall the fiasco of the University of Montana’s recent biomass proposal, which ignored both economics and environmental impacts while being endlessly promoted by the university, Sen. Jon Tester and his handful of industry and environmental collaborators. It is equally important to remember that the Thompson River venture was initially sold to the public as a wood-burning plant, but quickly morphed into a super-polluting coal-burner once the economics of wood chips kicked in. Could that happen elsewhere? You bet it could.”