The West Fork Complex Fire near Pagosa Springs has burned more than 95,000 acres and is as of this writing still out of control. The East Peak Fire near Walsenburg and La Veta has burned more than 13,500 acres. These are just two of the fires that are burning in the 3rd District right now, and it is still early in the summer. Tens of thousands of acres of forests are already gone and entire communities are being threatened.
Just like the wildfires that have ravaged Colorado and other Western States over the past decade, these fires have destroyed property, and are doing irreversible damage to the environment and watersheds on which we rely.
Brave men and women are working around-the-clock to stop the devastation. They are truly incredible, and I want to thank them for all they are doing to protect property, save lives and contain these wildfires.
The incident commanders in charge of suppression efforts on the West Fork Fire told me that the behavior of the fire has been unprecedented. Because of all of the beetle-killed timber, unnaturally dense forest and dry conditions, the fire has acted in a way that defies computer models.
The most tragic part of this is that the occurrence of these forest fires could be reduced, if not outright prevented, with commonsense healthy forest management. With millions of acres of beetle-killed timber, prolonged drought, unnaturally dense undergrowth, and warm temperatures combining to create prime conditions for fire, it's undeniable that Colorado's forests need immediate attention.
This week I was joined by my Republican colleagues from Colorado and the Chairmen of the Congressional Western Caucus in introducing a resolution to express the sense of the House of Representatives that more must be done to address the conditions of forests on federal lands.
This resolution dovetails with my Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention legislation, and is a call to action to address the critical condition of Western Forests in order to prevent future destruction. I'm working with my colleague, Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, to address the need for proactive forest management in addition to fixing the broken secure rural schools system, and am optimistic that we will see movement on forest legislation in the House within the summer, and take crucial steps toward addressing this emergency.