Feds open up disaster relief loans to drought-stricken southwest Colorado

U.S. Colorado Senator Mark Udall today lauded the federal Small Business Administration for taking action to bolster businesses in the drought-stricken southwest region of the state. The office opened up a low-interest disaster-relief loan program to ten Colorado counties. It’s not just the agricultural sector that is struggling, Udall pointed out in a release, but also the tourism industry and businesses tied to farming, like seed producers and farm-machinery mechanics.

“Farming and ranching operations are integral parts of Colorado’s economy, not just in putting food on our tables, but also in supporting jobs throughout our rural communities,” Udall said. “This is welcome relief to ensure small-business owners can continue to create jobs and provide critical services in our communities.”

As the southwest bakes in the big heat, the rest of the state has braced for record mountain snow-pack to melt and flood rivers.

Water watchers have been eyeing the Yampa, the upper Colorado and the North Platte Rivers for weeks. On the Front Range, they’re monitoring the Cache la Poudre, the Big Thompson Rivers and Clear Creek.

Udall has cautioned that the drought conditions exacerbate the threat of wild fire in the southwest.

Udall has been a strong advocate for updating federal and state responses to fires, pointing out repeatedly on Capitol Hill that millions of acres of pine forest decimated by bark beetle infestation stretch like enormous tinder skeletons across the state.

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