Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ritter Asks US Department of Agriculture for Forest Funds

Gov. Bill Ritter is asking the Bush Administration for millions of dollars to fight Colorado's pine beetle infestation and to pay for wildfire prevention efforts.

The request comes in the form of a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, asking the department to award up to three long-term, 10-year forest-restoration contracts to private vendors in Colorado.

The department currently awards only short-term stewardship contracts, but Colorado’s new Forest Health Advisory Council says vendors require the stability of longer-term contracts.

The Governor’s letter follows passage of SJR 08-010, which requests that the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Colorado State Forest Service work together to identify and implement up to three long-term stewardship contracts.

SJR 08-010 was sponsored by Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, and Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Summit County.

“A broad spectrum of stakeholders agrees that long-term stewardship contracts are an effective tool for bridging the gap between collaboratively identified forest management priorities and the lack of resources and/or industry to accomplish them,” Ritter said. “This is an example of how we can maximize funds to keep our forests healthy and protect our communities.”

The governor's letter is here.