Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Senate OKs Forest Restoration Act

DENVER—Today the Senate gave initial approval to SB08-71, which would reauthorize last year's forest health measure to address the devastating infestation of bark beetles in Colorado.

Sponsored by Senator Dan Gibbs (D-Silverthorne) and Representative Christine Scanlan (D-Dillon), the bill would extend the repeal date for the Forest Restoration Pilot Program and its related technical advisory panel from 2008 to 2012.

Gibbs created the Forest Restoration Pilot Program in 2007 as part of the Colorado Forest Restoration Act. It directed the Colorado State Forest Service, the Division of Forestry and the Department of Natural Resources to solicit proposals for experimental forest restoration projects that protect water supplies. It also established a technical advisory panel to assist the state forest service in the proposal selection process.

"Colorado is blessed with 22.6 million acres of forests. Sadly, 1.5 million of that forest now stands dead," Gibbs said. "It's heartbreaking to see the extent of the devastation in our mountains. With passage of this bill we're tackling this crisis head-on; finding uses for all that dead timber will greatly reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires and will help protect our forests, our water, and our way of life."

Gibbs is a Type II Wildland Firefighter and last year spent a month fighting wildfires in California.

SB08-71 will next be taken up by the Senate on third and final reading.