Compensation for trees and reforestation discussed in the Town Hall

Dangerous deforestation, reforestation efforts and compensation for it, access to free firewood and a new outreach effort were the topics discussed at the most recent town hall meeting in Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Claims Office on December 13th.

Originally scheduled to take place at the Mora High School lecture hall, the town hall meeting took place via Zoom due to a snowstorm.

Angela Gladwell, director of the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Claims Office, said a new outreach effort has been launched to help ensure those affected by the fire receive the assistance they are entitled to. The effort includes a text message campaign launched by the state of New Mexico, FEMA, and the Claims Office.

Starting Dec. 13, Gladwell said, those who applied for FEMA assistance after the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire and subsequent flooding and who have not yet filed a claim with the Claims Office may receive a text message asking if they are interested in receiving. more information about the Claims Office or other recovery resources.

The text message will come from the Claims Office, Gladwell said. The text asks the individual to choose from a list of options what best describes their situation.

Each answer will receive an acknowledgment text, said Gladwell. He added that those who have a landline or those who do not have a cellphone number filed with FEMA can call the Claims Office Helpline at 505-995-7133 or Disaster Case Management at 505-670-4662 to learn more about the outreach effort.

Also, those who receive a text message and suspect it is not from the Claims Office are asked to call the helpline to check the source of the text.

Ashley Saulcy, State Recovery Officer for the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, sat next to Gladwell in the Mora Claims Office during the Zoom meeting. Saulcy helped facilitate discussion about hazardous logging, fuel access and reforestation.

Our focus is to coordinate the many federal, state and local entities providing assistance for the recovery, Saulcy said. Our goal is to identify what the needs are on the ground and coordinate resources to meet those needs.

Saulcy introduced John Romero, director of the Highway Operations Support Division for the New Mexico Department of Transportation. Romero said NMDOT is working to help remove dangerous trees that could affect the property.

Romero described a dangerous tree as damaged, burned, or dead. It’s a tree that could fall on something important, he said, like a road, a path to someone’s property, a house, or a place where a house used to be. and that is now considered an area that can be rebuilt.

We help with what is called Category A and B debris removal, said Romero. Basic emergency debris removal.

Romero also described what happens to the tree after the tree is removed. He said that, when it comes to trees affecting the right-of-way, their trees are cut and placed on slopes to help repair any future erosion, he said.

Wood from trees on private property can be offered to the owner, said Romero, and if he does not want it, it will be removed, blocked and split, he said.

Kenneth Branch, assistant state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (US Department of Agriculture Division) said that the NRCS also does tree removal, but unlike the DOT, its goal is to remove endangered trees. threat to people. NRCS works with many homeowners to remove trees that threaten life and property, Branch said.

This is done by NRCS, said Branch, through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. For more information on hazardous tree removal, the NRCS San Miguel office can be reached at 505-425-3594 extension 3. In Mora, the NRCS can be reached at 575-387-2424 extension 3. The NRCS can also be can be reached by email at

Shaun Sanchez, forestry supervisor for the Santa Fe National Forest, noted that firewood can be obtained by the public and firewood permits are available for free. Wood fuel permits can be obtained at the Las Vegas Ranger District offices at 1926 Seventh St. in Las Vegas; the Pecos District Office at 32 S. Main St. in Pecos or at the Mora County Courthouse at 1 Courthouse Drive in Mora. Free fuel permits are only available on Fridays from 9 am-12 pm at the Mora County Courthouse.

For more information about free firewood permits, Sanchez said, call the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District Office at 505-425-3534. He said the office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Another way to get free fuel is Neighbors Helping Neighbors, said Sanchez. The program is for people who are experiencing some kind of disadvantage, and people are encouraged to contact the agency to discuss their situation and their options.

Neighbors helping neighbors can be reached at 505-429-2062.

Tyler Orton, chief of policy for the Claims Office, discussed three ways in which claimants can receive compensation for reforestation efforts on their property. One way is through NRCS, which will include a property appraisal. Another way is to file a loss claim at one of the HPCC claims offices.

We can use a mapping tool to look at the severity of the burn on your property and give you direct payment, Orton said of requesting reforestation payments through the Claims Office instead of through NRCS.

A third way to get paid for reforestation efforts is through a private company.

Whatever approach you take, work with them carefully to ensure the appropriateness of the plans, Orton said.

More than 30 people attended the Zoom meeting, and the Claims Office staff answered many questions. One woman expressed frustration with what she described as the Claims Office making repeated requests for the same documentation.

What if a documentation was provided and it is requested again? he asked. Why are the papers requested to be revised again and again? Why can’t the Claims Office tell us at the beginning what is required?

Gladwell said the man brought up an important point.

From my perspective, I’ll be honest with you, Gladwell said. I am not happy with the burden of documentation requirements now. We are actively working to streamline the requirements and provide you with clarity on what the documentation requirements are.

Gladwell said the Claims Office has put together documentation checklists that claimants can provide so they know what to expect.

We know we can do better about it, Gladwell said, and are actively working to make that change.

I am committed to doing so, Gladwell added.

During a press conference at the Claims Office in the Santa Fe office on December 15, Gladwell noted that FEMA has received claims with documentation worth $341 million dollars. Of this amount, nearly $251 million dollars have been paid, meaning 73 percent of documented claims have been paid.

Of the $4 billion dollars approved by Congress through the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act to help communities recover, the Claims Office estimates that between $1 billion and $1.5 billion will be used for reforestation.

All three claims offices will be open this holiday season, Gladwell said at the Dec. 15 meeting. Except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, claims offices will be open regular hours. in Las Vegas, Mora, and Santa Fe.

The Las Vegas Claims Office is located at Mills Plaza, 216 Mills Ave. Its hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7:30 am-5 pm; Tuesday from 7:30 am-7:30 pm and Saturday from 9 am-ud.

The Mora Claims Office is located at the Mora County Complex, 10 Courthouse Drive. Its hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7:40 am-5 pm; Tuesday from 7:30 am-7:30 pm and Saturday from 9 am-ud.

The Santa Fe Claims Office at 1711 Llano St., suite E, is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 am-5 pm

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