NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico legislators are looking for ways to compensate those affected by the Calf Canyon Hermits Peak Fire. Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez and U.S. Senator Ben Ray Lujan have introduced the Hermits Peak Fire Assistance Act, which would give New Mexicans full compensation for different kinds of losses they’re suffering at the hands of the fire. They say people should be compensated because the fire was started by the U.S. Forest Service.

“What we want to make sure is that people are made whole. We can never replace the beautiful forest that we’ve lost but we want people to be compensated if they lost property whether it’s insured or not,” said Rep. Leger Fernandez.

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On top of FEMA assistance, the legislation would provide for property loss and damage. That means it would give money to land that was burned even if there are not buildings on it. It also called for reforestation on tribal or non-governmental land but also the trickle-down effects of losing the land to the fire and the evacuation.

That would include things like the costs to people who hunt or fish to live and are now dealing with the scarcity of animals, the loss of firewood and timber sales, and the loss of revenue for businesses in the evacuation zones. “Those are examples. Also, know that we need to clean up afterward. So there will be individuals who will have to go and clear the debris from their lands. That would be another loss that would be covered,” said Rep. Leger Fernandez.

Leger Fernandez says there are some things that can’t be compensated for like the beauty of the landscape now lost to burn-scarred hills. She says, however, that since the Calf Canyon Hermits Peak Fire started as a prescribed burn, the United States needs to take financial responsibility for all the losses New Mexicans have suffered.

The bill was introduced and is working its way through committees now.

Governor Michelle Lujan has asked the president to cover 100% of all disaster costs. The governor says the state does not have the ability to cover the rising costs and is asking the federal government to foot the entire bill. She is requesting immediate federal funding for debris removal as well, which could take a long time after the fires are out.