Today, Mark Udall announced another big natural resources victory for Colorado in the U.S. Senate - the passage of his Sugar Loaf Fire Protection District Land Exchange Act. Co-sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet, the bill would help the Boulder County fire district resolve a long-standing issue with the U.S. Forest Service. A similar measure is waiting for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Although the Sugar Loaf bill had no opposition in the Senate, it had been blocked for over a year by gridlock and conflicts about unrelated issues. Udall has been pushing hard to pass it, along with other legislation important to Colorado. Last month, he successfully passed legislation to help ski communities create jobs year-round by relaxing a regulation that prevented summertime activities on National Forest land.
"This is a great win for the Sugar Loaf Fire District and the people it serves," Udall said. "The Sugar Loaf Fire District protects thousands of Coloradans, but instead of being able to focus on fighting fires they've been wrapped up trying to resolve a land issue with the Forest Service. This bill is critical to public safety in Colorado, and I'm extremely glad that we were finally able to get past the gridlock that is slowing down progress on everything here in Washington."
The bill would ensure that the fire district owns the land under two of its three fire stations. The fire district will swap 5.17 acres of land in the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest between the communities of Boulder and Nederland. The lands transferred to the federal government will become part of the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest and managed accordingly.
"As we saw in last year's disastrous Fourmile Canyon Fire, firefighters are essential to keeping people and property safe. The Sugar Loaf Fire District firefighters were crucial in fighting that fire, and this bill would help them continue to do their jobs well," Udall added. "Now we need to get it through the House, so the fire district can finally put aside this land dispute with the Forest Service."
"Our firefighters put their lives on the line to keep us safe, and we owe it to them to make sure they have the resources and support they need to get the job done," Bennet said. "This bill will allow the Sugar Loaf Fire District to make essential upgrades and improvements it needs to better keep Boulder County safe."
Carl Henrikson of the Sugar Loaf Fire Protection District hailed the news. "This is great news for the Sugarloaf Fire Protection District. We have been working for over ten years to accomplish this land trade with the USFS. The cooperation and support of Senator Udall has made it possible."