Tipton pushes local forest control

RBC I Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-03) stressed the need for increased state and local involvement to help address the hazardous condition of forests on federal lands during a Western Caucus field hearing that took place Thursday at the Colorado State Capitol.
Tipton underscored that more proactive action is needed to save Colorado’s forests from catastrophic wildfires like those that have ravaged the state over the past decade. Western Caucus Co-Chairs, Reps. Steve Pearce (N.M.) and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), joined with Tipton and Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn in holding the field hearing to examine state solutions to forest health, wildfires and habitat protection.
“Forests are vital for the western United States, providing limitless environmental and economic benefits when healthy,” Tipton said. “It’s our responsibility to preserve this incredible natural resource and do all we can to restore forest health.
“It’s time that Congress, the Administration and citizens of the West take steps to prevent these tragedies,” he said. “For too long we have been working to stop fires once they start, and mitigate damage once it has already been done. As the old saying goes, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’”
Last year, the Forest Service spent $296 million on hazardous fuels treatment nationwide while spending $1.77 billion on wildfire suppression during the same time.
In a hearing last month, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell confirmed that more needs to be done to proactively manage forests rather than continuing to have to spend exponentially greater resources on suppression and wildfire clean-up efforts once it’s too late.
In 2012, fires scorched more than 9 million acres of land nationwide, took more than a dozen lives, destroyed thousands of homes, caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and destroyed important wildlife habitat.
Tipton has introduced legislation (H.R. 818) to encourage proactive management by streamlining hazardous fuels reduction projects and making up-front investments in forest health, in order to spend fewer taxpayer dollars fighting fires later on.
Tipton’s bill places no requirement on state and local officials to act but provides governors and county commissioners with the ability to designate high-risk areas and develop emergency hazardous fuels reduction projects on federal lands.
The HFPA (H.R. 818) is supported by numerous Colorado counties.