Bastrop Co. asks lawmakers to help with wildfire recovery


by JADE MINGUS / KVUE NEWS and photojournalist JOHN FISHER

Bio | Email | Follow: @JadeM_KVUE

Posted on December 19, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 19 at 7:41 PM

BASTROP COUNTY, Texas -- Bastrop County officials say progress has been made since the wildfire broke out 15 months ago, but help is needed from the state before the road to recovery can be completed.

Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape says the county has not received a dime in public assistance since the disaster struck September 4, 2011. More than $21 million in federal funds and a $5 million donaton from the Lower Colorado River Authority have made progress possible.

"We have not received any money from the state of Texas for the recovery and restoration effort," said Judge Pape.

County officials are asking lawmakers to appropriate money in the upcoming legislative session. They are requesting more than $7 million for Bastrop County and another $7 million for the Bastrop State Park.

The judge says the money is critical. It would pay to remove charred trees that pose a safety risk, repair damaged county roads and provide matching funds for a federal grant that would help the county protect itself from a future wildfire.

"They set this money aside on the federal level to prevent a similar disaster from occuring again. It would be a shame if we couldn't access those funds," said Bastrop County Commissioner Clara Beckett.

Bastrop County has made progress in 2012. Crews removed more than 70,000 charred trees, planted 300,000 pine seedlings and some 750 families have built new homes. Still the work is far from over.

"We are ready. All we need is for the state government to say 'We want to be a partner in your recovery as well.' We think they will, but that is to be seen," said Judge Pape.

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