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Rim Fire Disaster Declaration Relief

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Tuolumne County, CA – Tuolumne County’s major disaster designation from the President takes much of the burden off local taxpayers to foot the bill for Rim Fire recovery efforts.

As reported yesterday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced federal funding will be available for emergency work and the repair or replacement of public facilities damaged by the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County. The money will come on a cost-sharing basis.

“We’re excited about it. This is great,” says County Administrative Officer Craig Pedro.

Governor Brown already declared the Rim Fire a State of Emergency in late August. That afforded 75% in state funding for damage through the California Disaster Assistance Act, but left Tuolumne County taxpayers still paying a large chuck of the costs.

CAO Pedro says, “The big picture is that we’re going from having to cover 100% of the costs to the state paying 75%. That still left the county paying 25%, now with the presidential declaration that brings the state and federal coverage to 93% leaving only 7% as a county responsibility.”

Also included in the declaration is money for hazard mitigation on a project by project basis. That money comes on a cost-sharing basis as well. That federal provision could be used to help fund emergency repairs already being done to Ackerson Creek Crossing.

Pedro explains, “The crossing itself was not damaged by the fire. However, to prevent future runoff problems the county approved taking emergency preventative actions. It’s a project that has a price tag close to half a million dollars and if we can get a good portion of that covered by the federal government it will help offset that cost to the county as well.” Also, helping to fund the project is the Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park and San Francisco.

The direct cost to fight the Rim Fire was picked up by the federal government after a Fire Management Assistance Grant declaration was authorized by FEMA in August. Pedro says the county now plans to pursue getting federal funding for private individuals and businesses that suffered losses from the blaze. He says that would include reimbursements to ranchers for the loss of cattle or fencing, and businesses like timber, lodging, and restaurants.