DENVER, CO - The House today advanced legislation on a preliminary vote to help our forests recover from deforestation and better prepare communities for evacuations following a wildfire or other disaster.
“Wildfires have not only devastated Colorado families, ranches, and businesses, but they have also ravaged our forests and caused thousands of acres of deforestation,” said Rep. Tammy Story, D-Conifer, sponsor of SB23-1060. “We’re taking steps toward more effective forest restoration by using Colorado-grown nursery seedlings to reforest burned areas and build climate-resilient watersheds. Allocating funding to the Colorado State Forest Service Nursery will help mitigate the risk of wildfires, protect communities and preserve our water resources.”
HB23-1060 updates and expands the operations of Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) Nursery to help them meet seedling trees and shrubs conservation demands and increase reforestation efforts. In Colorado, seedlings are used for burned forest restoration, creating climate-resilient watersheds and forests and enhancing carbon storage.
$5 million was allocated toward the CSFS Nursery last year from HB22-1323 and additional funding would help complete the upgrades and expectations of shade house structures, improve seed storage and seedling processing, amongst other needs that will help meet growing demand.
“While Colorado continues to build more homes to keep up with growing demand, we must consider wildfire risk and evacuation plans to ensure the safety of all Coloradans during an emergency,” said Rep. Marc Snyder, D-Manitou Springs, sponsor of HB23-1075. “By studying best practices for evacuations, we can gather data to implement effective policy to protect Coloradans from wildfire threats and other dangers to public safety. This bill will help ensure that evacuations are orderly and quick and that communities understand what they’re supposed to do when a major fire breaks out.”
HB23-1075 requires the Office of Emergency Management to conduct a study to identify and assess the availability of technology to help with evacuation and clearance time modeling in local emergency management plans. The study will also evaluate the feasibility of requiring developers to perform evacuation and clearance time modeling for proposed developments in a wildfire rise area.
The study must be completed by December 1, 2023 and the Department of Public Safety would be required to report the findings during the 2024 legislative session.