The Gunnison National Forest in Colorado. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)
A group of Democratic U.S. senators and representatives from Colorado asked the U.S. Forest Service to create a plan for the $10 billion in funding the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act allocated for forest management and health.
In a letter addressed to Forest Service Chief Randy Moore Tuesday, U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper as well as Reps. Joe Neguse of Lafayette, Jason Crow of Centennial, Ed Perlmutter of Arvada and Diana DeGette of Denver requested a detailed plan for the funds given the “critical importance of forest health to Colorado” following the destructive wildfires the state has seen in recent years.
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“As climate change intensifies the frequency and severity of wildfires across the West, it is imperative that the Forest Service move expeditiously to allocate the new funding,” the letter reads. “The $10 billion in combined funding from the Infrastructure Law and the IRA represents a historic opportunity to address wildland fire and forest management across jurisdictions, at a scale commensurate with the West’s wildfire crisis, through shared priority setting with States, Tribes and other partners.”
The letter praised the forest service for its 10-year strategic plan to address the wildfire crisis, but the lawmakers behind the letter want to see additional details on the timing and specifics of where newly allocated funds will be used — especially the $18 million in Infrastructure Law funding dedicated to Colorado.
Specific questions posed in the letter involved identifying benchmarks of forest health beyond acres treated, funding necessary to implement the 10-year strategy, and clarification of how landscapes not identified as priorities, such as western Colorado, will be treated.
The senators and representatives said they’d welcome a meeting with the forest service to discuss the points they raised, and they’d like to see quarterly briefings on the implementation of forest-related provisions in Colorado.
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