Colorado lawmakers tackle wildfires |

Colorado lawmakers tackle wildfires

DENVER, Colo. ” How to fight destructive wildfires in Colorado will be the focus of a task force set to meet in Denver on Aug. 5 and 6.

The Interim Committee on Wildfire Issues in Wildland-Urban Interface Areas meets as the threat of a destructive fire increases. More homes are being constructed in mountainous areas and pine beetles are killing off Colorado’s pine forests.

“Unfortunately, the likelihood that fire will encroach on our mountain and rural communities increases as those communities boom,” said state Sen. Dan Gibbs, the committee chairman. “As the state ” and in particular, our mountain communities ” continue to grow, we need to provide firefighting personnel with new resources and strategies so they can effectively continue protect Colorado.”

State Rep. Christine Scanlan, who represents Eagle County, said this committee will be different because it plans to take field trips.

“We would like to get folks out to show them bark beetle devastation,” said Scanlan, who is running for re-election this fall. “What we want is some innovative thinking to happen so we can translate that into legislation next session.”

Among the group’s field trips will be a visit to a plant in Kremmling that converts pine beetle-killed trees into wood pellets that can be used in wood stoves. There also is a proposal to build a plant where pine-beetle lumber will be made into shipping palettes.

She said Colorado has to do a better job lobbying for federal help.

“Our congressional delegation has worked hard to bring resources,” Scanlan said, “but the problem is way beyond the scope of what Colorado can handle on its own.”

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