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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About the Author

David O. Williams

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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