Colorado lawmakers want federal funds for forest fire prevention restored |

Colorado lawmakers want federal funds for forest fire prevention restored

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

WASHINGTON ” In a rare unified front, Colorado’s congressional delegation has asked the Forest Service to reverse a $4.3 million budget cut, saying it could hurt forest fire prevention projects.

In a letter sent Monday, the state’s five Democrats and four Republicans asked U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell to reach into other sources of money ” even those for other regions ” to bring Colorado’s funding back to what it was in 2006.

The lawmakers said the cut could mean the Forest Service would be able to do less brush clearing and bark beetle treatment, which help prevent conditions that fuel forest fires.

“It is imperative that you work to bring more funds to Colorado to address these critical needs,” the lawmakers wrote.

In their letter, the delegation suggested Kimbell dip into her reserve fund or the $30 million allocated to the Northwest Forest Plan if all the money in those funds can’t be used this year.

Cody Wertz, a spokesman for Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar, said the budget resolution passed by Congress this year held the Forest Service’s budget at 2006 levels, but the service cut funding for Colorado while increasing money for the Northwest.

Forest Service spokesman Joe Walsh said he could not immediately comment on the letter but said Colorado residents should not worry about a decrease in the service’s ability to fight fires.

“We’ll tackle them like we always do,” he said.

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