Thirsty Denver joining beetle battle?
Aspen, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. ” Front Range water consumers could help pay for the removal of trees infected by pine beetles in western Colorado under new legislation.
Senate Bill 221 lets the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority loan money to water providers, which would pay to remove trees devastated by beetles in Eagle and Summit counties and other places, said Democratic state Sen. Dan Gibbs, of Silverthorne.
“This really takes forest health, in particular how we pay for forest-thinning projects, to a whole other level,” Gibbs said.
The bill lets the Colorado water authority issue bonds to finance the loans, Gibbs said. The money to pay back the loans could come from higher water bills in Denver, Colorado Springs and other places, he said.
Denver residents get some water from Lake Dillon in Summit County, for example, so Denver Water could pay to remove infected trees and to plant new ones to protect their water supply, Gibbs said.
If a forest fire occurs, exacerbated by infected trees, water supplies could be tainted because dirt will spill into rivers and lakes at a greater rate, Gibbs said. Gibbs points out that a significant amount of dirt was dumped into Colorado water supplies after the Hayman Fire, which burned almost 138,000 acres southwest of Denver in 2002.
“It’s still costing Denver Water millions of dollars,” he said.
The bill gives water providers a way to prevent that from happening, he said.
The law, however, does not order water providers to pay to remove the trees, Gibbs said.
But, “If we can get them to… utilize this bill, it could bring in a substantial amount of money,” he said.
Gibbs and Democratic Rep. Christine Scanlan, of Dillon, sponsored the bill. It was signed by Gov. Bill Ritter during the last legislative session.
More people will be out enforcing laws in national forest and wilderness areas in Colorado thanks to another bill sponsored by Gibbs and Scanlan and signed into law last session.
Colorado Division of Wildlife Officers will now be given the authority to ticket people for violating laws such as riding a mountain bike or dirt bike in wilderness areas, Gibbs said.
U.S. Forest Service officials were the only ones who had the authority to give tickets for those kinds of violations before, Gibbs said.
Gibbs supports activities such as snowmobiling and four-wheeling in the Vail Pass recreation area ” in the White River National Forest ” but not when people go off designated trails.
“It’s also important we play by the rules,” he said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
What’s the Big Deal runs Mondays and is based on the prior week’s most expensive property transaction recorded in the Pitkin County Clerk & Recorder’s Office.