Working Together to Prevent and Fight Destructive Wildfires
Flickr photo by cw_anderson
I want to thank the firefighters and emergency personnel who have been fighting one of the largest and most destructive wildfires Boulder County has ever seen. They, and our state leaders, who acted quickly to ensure emergency resources are available, deserve our praise and our prayers as they continue working to control the fire. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Fire Management Assistant Grant will provide up to 75 percent reimbursement of costs associated with suppressing the fire. I’ve offered my help to Governor Ritter’s team, and I’m going to continue to work with him in any way I can to ensure that resources are deployed appropriately and all residents, homes and businesses in the area are safe.
Wildfire is a threat Colorado communities face, in part because of the damage the bark beetle epidemic has inflicted on millions of acres of trees. I’m not going to rest in my efforts to secure additional funding and support to reduce the wildfire threats throughout Colorado. Earlier this year, when our state received $30 million to help address the threats posed by bark beetles, I asked the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service to ensure the money gets put to use as soon as possible. In response, the Forest Service has told me that it will clear more than 14,000 acres of trees near communities and in more than 350 recreation sites. A map of the locations where the $30 million is being spent on projects is now available HERE.
I’m also continuing to push for an additional $50 million to help the Forest Service combat the bark-beetle epidemic, reduce the risk of wildfire, help remove trees near power lines, and protect our watersheds. I also have introduced legislation to help the Forest Service target resources more quickly and treat areas where a destructive fire could occur. In August, that bill, the National Forest Insect and Disease Emergency Act, passed the Senate’s Energy and National Resources Committee, on which I sit, and I’m working to get it approved by the full Senate this year. Among other provisions, the bill:
- Identifies by map the areas affected by the epidemic, including those in which trees pose a high risk to public health and safety.
- Focuses resources within these emergency areas to mitigate hazards associated with falling trees and wildfire, and
- Authorizes the use of “good neighbor agreements” between state and federal agencies to provide more effective and efficient forest management across certain federal land boundaries.