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May 20, 2024

Bills to Improve Wildfire Mitigation in Rural Communities, Continue Wildfire Prevention Awareness Signed Into Law

NEW CASTLE, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed legislation that will improve wildfire mitigation. HB24-1006 will make it easier for rural communities to locate and apply for state and federal wildfire prevention grants. HB24-1024 will expand wildfire prevention efforts through community education.

“Rural communities like mine are often most at risk for wildfire-related damage and displacement,” said Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs, sponsor of HB24-1006 and HB24-1024. “HB24-1006 will connect rural communities to state and federal wildfire mitigation grants and assist with the application process so they can prevent wildfire devastation and keep their homes and businesses safe. I’m also proud that HB24-1024 is now law, extending the Colorado State Forest Service wildfire outreach campaign so we can continue efforts that will make our communities more wildfire-resilient.”

“We must use every tool available to protect our communities and prepare for the increased number and intensity of wildfires,” said Senator Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County, sponsor of HB24-1006 and HB24-1024. “These new laws will help get these tools and valuable information into communities under threat of wildfire, including those in under-resourced rural communities.”

“Rural communities often have fewer resources to mitigate destructive wildfires, which can leave communities in disarray,” said Rep. Marc Snyder, D-Manitou Springs, sponsor of HB24-1006. “This law makes it easier for our rural communities to find and apply for state and federal wildfire mitigation grants. From wildfire prevention tactics to increased emergency response efforts, there are many wildfire mitigation efforts that can keep our communities safe and better prepared.”

HB24-1006 will help rural communities find and apply for state and federal wildfire mitigation grants. Specifically, this law establishes a rural grant navigator program within the Colorado State Forest Service to aid rural communities in locating and applying for wildfire mitigation grants. Grants can help communities obtain the resources they need to combat wildfires through prevention tactics, response efforts, and risk management.

HB24-1024 requires the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) to continue its enhanced wildfire outreach campaign through 2027, as well as other outreach efforts that increase awareness of wildfire risk mitigation in the wildland-urban interface.

“Many Colorado communities are in wildfire-prone areas, but the Marshall Fire tragedy taught us that we must be prepared for the worst as wildfires can quickly spread into our neighborhoods,” said Rep. Tammy Story, D-Conifer, sponsor of HB24-1024. “This new law will expand on the great work that the Colorado State Forest Service has done to educate Coloradans on wildfire risk and mitigation strategies so we can continue to protect our communities from wildfires.”

This legislation builds on a 2022 law, also sponsored by Representative Story, that directed CSFS to create a working group and implement an enhanced wildfire awareness month outreach campaign for 2023 and 2024.

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