Tancredo takes on massive infestation by millions of

Congressman Tom Tancredo, R-Littleton, is once again targeting a massive wave of infiltrators devastating Colorado’s landscape, but this time the relentless anti-immigration crusader and former presidential candidate isn’t after human interlopers.

“The pine beetle infestation I believe has reached the point that we can call it a natural disaster,” Tancredo said on a conference call with reporters Thursday, announcing he has fired off a letter to Gov. Bill Ritter directing him to request a preemptive federal natural disaster designation and funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to start building more logging roads and cutting down more dead trees.

Tancredo also announced that sometime next month he will introduce his charter forest bill,  which will give more local control over beetle-kill mitigation projects, streamline the National Environmental Policy Act hurdles for Forest Service thinning efforts and set tighter deadlines for resolving lawsuits filed by environmental groups.

“It is for the purpose of giving the Forest Service the ability to deal with the problem without having to through the enormous and cumbersome process that presently plagues them,” said Tancredo, who in his letter to Ritter blames “radical environmentalists and poor forest management policy” for potentially catastrophic fires that could result from the beetle epidemic.

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail and Real Aspen.

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