January 23, 2012
(Denver) – Rep. Millie Hamner won House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee approval today for her bill to reauthorize a forest restoration program and three associated funds to promote the health of Colorado’s forests and combat Colorado’s bark beetle epidemic in order to protect Colorado’s watersheds, tourist economy and local mountain communities from the devastating impacts of wildfires.
The program coordinates resources and encourages collaboration across state and local agencies, as well as non-governmental entities. It has been successful in reducing wildfire risk and protecting Colorado’s watersheds through collaboration by local communities and land managers.
Together, the program’s three funds have already supported 68 projects covering 12,000 acres of forest. Since their inception in 2008, the program has received $2.65 million from the state and leveraged an additional $6.6 million in federal funds and other grants and gifts.
Colorado Youth Corps teams are often contracted by local groups to conduct the work, thereby providing jobs for young adults while improving local forest conditions.
The Agriculture Committee voted 8-2 to authorize $2.5 million for the three funds over the next five years.
“Allowing local communities to take charge of protecting themselves from wildfire and working to create conditions for healthy forests is essential for the state,” said Rep. Hamner (D-Dillon). “With so much land in the state managed by federal agencies, some have felt powerless to address declines in forest health. These programs are among the few tools we have at the state level to make a difference.”