Scanlan hopes to whip up beetle-mania inside Beltway

State House Majority Whip Christine Scanlan, D-Dillon, is whipping up a little beetle-mania this week in Washington, ratcheting up the rhetoric in the war for more money to battle the bug that won the West.

Issuing a release with language like “before it’s too late,” “extreme risk,” and “urgent national importance,” Scanlan last week launched two pieces of legislation in the state House (SB 1 and HB 1199) aimed at the mountain pine beetle epidemic and will lead a delegation to D.C. Wednesday to get the attention of the feds.

With about 2 million acres of lodgepole pine forests in the northern and central Colorado Rockies already wiped out by the insects, Scanlan — the state’s new self-anointed beetle queen — is on a mission to “save lives and properties.”

For the benefit of the inside-the-Beltway crowd, she points out a catastrophic wildfire or even a massive blow-down of dead trees could devastate the national power grid and clog critical watersheds with debris.

She’ll likely have a sympathetic ear in Interior Secretary and former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar and members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, but funding for forest-fire mitigation is incredibly tight.

Scanlan will be joined by state Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne; five county commissioners; two mayors; state forester Jeff Jahnke and a handful of other wildfire and power-grid experts.

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