April 18, 2012

(Denver) – The mountain pine and spruce beetles are devastating forests in much of Colorado. Aside from remaking landscapes, altering wildlife habitats and increasing the danger of wildfire, avalanche and erosion, they have left Coloradans with the vexing question of what to do with all that dead timber.

HB12-1004, sponsored by Rep. Laura Bradford (R-Grand Junction), “requires county and municipal building codes to allow the use of lumber milled from lodgepole pine and Engelmann spruce trees having a grade of ‘stud’ or better as building framing material.”

But as the name implies, “stud” grade lumber is already in general use for studs and other framing applications. So the Bradford bill changes nothing, encourages no one to use beetle-killed timber. Yet the bill obtained the blessing of the House Republican leadership, which put it on its phantom list of “jobs” bills.

This much-ballyhooed bill was killed this morning – at the sponsor’s request — in the House Agriculture Committee.

Rep. Roger Wilson (D-Glenwood Springs), who sits on the Ag Committee, urged Rep. Bradford to introduce a resolution touting beetle-kill wood. “There are many uses of this lumber as structural and decorative products,” he said.

Legislators are left to deal with another vexing question: if a bill falls in the House, does it make a sound?

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