The Colorado congressional delegation has successfully lobbied for restoration of $2 million to the U.S. Forest Service budget for fighting forest fires this fire season.
About two weeks ago, the entire delegation made a bipartisan request (PDF) to U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell to put excised funds back in the budget. The delegation asked for $4.3 million, but the agency agreed to the $2 million figure. Forest fire funding is now back to the 2006 levels.There are about 21.3 million acres of forested land in Colorado,covering nearly one-third of the state’s surface. Nearly three-quarters of the forest is government-owned.
“The Colorado delegation spoke with a united voice, and the Forest Service came to its senses to prevent this dangerous funding cut,” said Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.). “This is an important win for property and home owners across Colorado, and an important step forward in wildfire prevention for the entire state.”
“It is reassuring to know that the Forest Service has heeded the call of the Colorado Congressional delegation and has recognized the importance of this critical funding,” said Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.). “Shortchanging forest fire prevention funding for Colorado could put the entire western United States at risk and we must continue to do what we can to avert the potentially dangerous fire season that is approaching.”
The delegation’s release said that in 2006 approximately 74,000 acres of USFS land received hazardous fuels treatment. But as of 2006, Colorado had over 280,000 acres of treatments that are approved under the National Environmental Policy Act, with another 235,000 acres of treatments in NEPA analysis. In addition, there is another 12,000 acres ready for timber sales and forest health treatments, but lack of funding threatens to keep those projects shelved.