LegislatureNewsPublic Safety

Reps. from Colo. regions burned by wildfires net $2M for preparedness

Author: Joey Bunch - March 30, 2018 - Updated: April 5, 2018

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wildfiresA large brush fire fueled by high winds came close to housing at For. Carson on March 4. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett/The Colorado Springs Gazette)

DENVER — Two state representatives from regions of Colorado where wildfires have taken a heavy toll secured an amendment in the state budget approved by the House this week to help communities better prepare for the next conflagration.

Republican Reps. Terri Carver of Colorado Springs and Tim Leonard of Evergreen made a case for $2 million for community wildfire preparedness.

It’s not a massive sum of money, given the state’s $28.9 billion budget, but it could save lives in areas of the state that are prone to catch fire with devastating effects.

Leonard’s mountain district is heavily forested in a region that sustained huge losses to wildfires in 2012 and 2013. The Pikes Peak region around Colorado Springs, which includes Carver’s district, also has seen major, deadly wildfires in the last decade.

Unless it’s stripped out by the Senate when the budget debate begins there next week, the money could be used for equipment, technical assistance, as well as wildfire mitigation and suppression.

“Wildfires are a huge public safety threat to our communities in Colorado, and this additional money will help our state and local efforts to mitigate wildfire hazards,” Carver said in a statement.

“This is especially true this year, when Colorado has had less moisture and our wildfire ‘season’ seems to be year-round. This additional funding for wildfire preparedness will help our efforts in wildfire prevention, suppression, and effective response.”

Leonard added:

“This funding will help Colorado better prepare for the upcoming fire season by supporting local forest management and wildfire mitigation measures. Wildfires can be unpredictable and extremely damaging, and it is critical we let our fire districts get ahead of this threat.”

Colorado’s fire risks have increased because of population growth in the wildland interface, which impedes the natural fire cycles that allow growth and brush to accumulate and feed larger fires.

 

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.