Wildfire Committee Backs Two Exum Bills

(Sept. 26) – Two bills to be sponsored by Rep. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs) are among the five endorsed today by the interim Wildfire Matters Review Committee.

One bill would continue funding for Wildfire Risk Reduction Grants, a $9.8 million program for projects to reduce wildfire risk around the state, especially in “wildland-urban interface” areas.

The other Exum bill endorsed by the committee commits $1 million to incentivize the use of woody biomass as heating fuel for public buildings. “My hope is to expand the market for the trees we cut and the undergrowth we clear out when we reduce fuel load in WUI areas,” said Rep. Exum, who is a member of the wildfire committee.

A third Exum bill, changing the state wildfire mitigation income tax deduction to a tax credit of up to $2,500 for property owners in WUI areas, failed to receive the wildfire committee’s endorsement on a 4-4 tie, but Rep. Exum said after the committee meeting that he would sponsor the bill on his own in the 2015 session.

“I think it’s unfair to ask our firefighters to risk their lives to protect property from wildfire unless homeowners take reasonable steps to reduce the risk that their property will burn and the intensity of that blaze,” said Rep. Exum, who served 35 years in the Colorado Springs Fire Department. “This bill will incentivize property owners to do the right thing.”

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