Monday, September 15, 2008

Scanlan Briefs Interim Committee on DC Discussions About Bark Beetle Funds

Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Summit County, told an interim wildfire prevention committee of the General Assembly Monday that Congress is likely to support additional funding needed to combat the bark beetle infestation of the state's forests.

The committee agreed, after her presentation, to push for legislative adoption of range of proposals aimed at combating the bug attacks.

“The committee definitely gets it, and I am thrilled to have its full backing as we move forward” Scanlan said. “We cannot afford to have a New Orleans situation, where everyone just sits on their hands until something terrible happens.”

Among the ideas the committee will explore is obtaining Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to fight the epidemic. Colorado is not currently eligible to receive pre-disaster FEMA funding. The committee will request Colorado’s congressional delegation to examine whether it’s possible to secure FEMA pre-disaster funding that can be used on federal lands impacted by the bark beetle infestation.

The committee also reviewed 11 legislative proposals to reduce the threat of wildfire to state. Many of the proposals are specifically intended to help combat the bark beetle threat.

The committee endorsed seven of the 11 proposals, so Coloradans can expect to see a range of bills addressing everything from expanding incentives for harvesting bark beetle-affected timber to increasing grants for emergency wildfire mitigation.

Scanlan, who vice-chairs the state interim committee on wildfires, was in Washington last week seeking assistance to combat the fast-moving pine beetle epidemic.