Today, U.S. Representatives John Salazar, Doug Lamborn, Jared Polis, Betsy Markey, Mike Coffman, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter introduced the "National Forest Insect and Disease Emergency Act of 2009" to combat the effects of Colorado's bark beetle infestation. The Rocky Mountain west is currently undergoing an unprecedented outbreak of Mountain Pine Beetle. In
Colorado alone over 2.5 million acres have been damaged. The National Forest Insect and Disease Emergency Act provides a variety of tools to address this outbreak. The states included in the bill include Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Congressman Salazar offered the following comment on the legislation:
"We must do what we can to prevent these insects from devastating the landscape that defines the character and heritage of Colorado and the Western United States. The bark beetle infestation has hit my district hard and I'm glad we're working together to hit back. This is something we can all agree on."
Congressman Polis offered the following comment on the legislation:
"The sheer magnitude of the mountain pine beetle outbreak is unprecedented, reaching from the southwestern United States to British Columbia and moving farther north than ever before. A changing climate and historic forest management practices have created the perfect storm. This legislation is the result of an excellent bipartisan collaboration and continues our efforts to ensure that the states and Forest Service have the funding and tools they need to keep people and infrastructure safe in the most sustainable and efficient way."
Congresswoman Markey offered the following comment on the legislation:
"The bark beetle infestation has reached crisis proportions in Colorado. The damage done by bark beetles greatly increases the threat of wildfires and endangers watershed health and water quality. Colorado's Eastern Plains depend on the water that flows from the Rocky Mountain forested areas, and it is critical that we stem the tide of this terrible blight. We are working hard to ensure that Congress hears loud and clear what we are fighting for in Colorado."
Congressman Coffman offered the following comment on the legislation:
"Throughout the West federal forest lands are being choked with a buildup of hazardous fuels that threaten communities, water resources, and human lives. This problem has been exacerbated by the bark beetle epidemic which has killed millions of acres of trees throughout Colorado. The legislation that we have introduced will help rectify this by giving land managers additional tools to combat the spread of beetle infestation and return our forests to a healthy state."
Congresswoman DeGette offered the following comment on the legislation:
"Bark beetles have caused vast tree loss across our beautiful state, creating potential hazards and safety risks. Our bipartisan effort has produced a sensible bill that will give the Forest Service the tools it needs to protect our infrastructure and local communities."
Congressman Perlmutter offered the following comment on the legislation:
"We've seen the plague of bark beetle infestation spread across Colorado in an unprecedented manner. This bipartisan legislation will combat this significant threat to our home and way of life. I thank my colleagues in the Colorado delegation for their continued work on this important issue."
Congressman Lamborn offered the following comment on the legislation:
"This bill is the result of a collaborative, bi-partisan effort to address an urgent concern in Colorado and the entire Mountain West. It provides tools to help reduce the threat of fire and other public safety hazards. I look forward to continued work with the Delegation to fight this problem."
The National Forest Insect and Disease Emergency Act of 2009 will:
1) Ensure adequate emphasis is placed on the mitigation of hazards around communities and critical infrastructure posed by large-scale infestation of bark beetles and other insects through the establishment of insect and disease emergency area;
2) Ensure increased resources are available within each designated insect and disease emergency area to mitigate hazards associated with falling trees, increased fire hazards and the restoration of national forest system land and;
3) Make permanent, as of the date of enactment of this Act, existing Good Neighbor authority for CO and Stewardship Contracting authorities for all states.