Schwartz asks congressional delegation to fight for wildfire suppression funds
“We need our congressional delegation to stand with us”
Denver-Today, Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass) sent a letter to Colorado’s congressional delegation urging them to advocate for extra wildfire suppression funds to be directed to Colorado. This extra federal funding is crucial for Colorado’s continuing efforts to mitigate damage caused by the ongoing bark beetle epidemic.
Colorado has roughly four million acres of standing dead forest due to the bark beetle epidemic and other diseases and invasive species. These dead trees have created an emergency situation for Colorado. We must act quickly to mitigate the imminent threat of tree stand blow downs and large-scale wildfires which will inevitably threaten our communities, state infrastructure, and watersheds.
Senator Schwartz has been a tireless advocate for her district, and all of Colorado, with regard to forest health. Throughout her time as a state senator she has sponsored numerous pieces of forest health legislation and sat on the wildfire interim committee. Senator Schwartz understands the risk that this urgent situation poses to the outdoor lifestyle that many Coloradans and tourists enjoy.
Senator Schwartz offered the following comment on the need for support from Colorado’s congressional delegation:
“The state and local governments and stakeholders have been working tirelessly to address the growing concerns around Colorado’s forest health. We need our congressional delegation to stand with us and remain strong partners as we strive for solutions that will protect local communities, valuable resources, and our state economy from disaster.”
Senator Schwartz’s letter is aimed at any extra fire suppression funding that may be found during the federal budget process by the Senate and House Appropriation Committees. She is asking the Colorado delegation to advocate in their respective bodies for any extra funding to be diverted to Colorado forest health crisis.
The text of Senator Schwartz’s letter is below:
To the Colorado Congressional Delegation,
As you know, Colorado is facing an emergency due to the deteriorating health of our forests. I am writing to urge you, as a member of the Colorado congressional delegation, to continue advocating for increased funding to protect Colorado’s threatened infrastructure, watersheds, and local communities. Your support is vital to Colorado’s efforts in managing our beetle-infested forests and mitigating the threat of a large-scale disaster.
Our local communities and other stakeholders continue working together to find solutions to these complicated issues. In the Colorado General Assembly, I remain committed to working with those who represent regions dealing with beetle-impacted forests. In 2010, the General Assembly passed eight pieces of legislation to help the state and local communities manage forest health and fire mitigation. The Colorado legislature remains committed to finding solutions to this urgent situation.
While we have great collaboration on the state and local levels, it is imperative that we continue our strong partnership with the federal government. It is crucial that Congress continue to provide funding to allow us to leverage our state and local investments and take preventive action given the scale of this emergency. In Colorado, on National Forest System lands alone, more than $50 million is needed annually to address the bark beetle epidemic. I strongly urge Congress to consider all potential sources of funding, particularly unused carryover fire suppression funds to improve the health of our forests.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter and your continued support. I look forward to working with you in the future on these and many other important issues. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns.
Colorado State Senator