Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) today said “it is clear that our National forests are in an unhealthy and dangerous state that pose an extreme risk to public safety, water supply and wildlife and resulting in larger and more intense wildfires.” During the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation oversight hearing on Wildfire and Forest Management, Lamborn said “Colorado and other states cannot afford to continue absorbing the enormous costs associated with these fires, most of which have burned on federal land.”
Lamborn highlighted the deadly Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires in Colorado to illustrate the urgent need to improve the management of our forest lands.
“This year marks the second consecutive year that my home state of Colorado has experienced record-setting fires in terms of property lost in a single wildfire. Last year, the Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed 347 homes and killed two people. This year, the Black Forest Fire claimed around 500 homes and two lives,” Lamborn said in an opening statement during the hearing.
To read his full comments, are prepared for delivery, click here.
Congressman Lamborn Calls for Improved Forest Management to Prevent Out-of-Control Wildfires
To view video, click here.
During the hearing, all witnesses agreed on the need for increased forest management to reduce hazardous fuels and diseases that have made national forests increasingly susceptible to large scale fires:
“It is widely recognized that management of our forest resources has not kept pace with the ever increasing need for restoration. We must manage and restore more acres to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire, to address insects and disease, and to restore the ecological health of forests for the benefit of all Americans.” – James Hubbard, Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“We recovered significant economic value from dead and dying trees, and the reduction in forest density promoted forest health and resiliency. While such forest health treatments are common on tribal lands, it would be a challenge to find similar speed, scope and effectiveness on federal forests.” – Phil Rigdon, Deputy Director, Yakama Indian Nation Department of Natural Resources.
“Poor forest condition is one of the primary factors that have led to destructive wildfires and catastrophic insect and disease outbreaks. The response has been to deal with the impacts (i.e. unwanted wildland fire), rather than improve the health of our forests through thinning and other management activities.” – Joseph Duda, Deputy State Forester, Colorado State Forest Service.
“By some estimates, more than 82 million acres of Forest Service lands and hundreds of millions of acres of other Federal lands are at increased risk of catastrophic wildfire. Even in landscapes where fires are infrequent, fuel loads and mortality are well outside of historic norms. These fuel problems lead to large scale forest mortality and increased occurrence of catastrophic wildfires.” – Chuck Roady, Federal Forest Resource Coalition.
“We must collectively and immediately dedicate ourselves to finding a way to effectively support both essential emergency wildfire preparedness and response AND the proactive fuels reduction and forest restoration that are needed to reduce the demand for emergency expenditures in the future. Our current approach to wildland fire and forest management creates a false choice, pitting the viability of one against the other. In reality, we cannot afford to short-change either.” – Christopher Topik, Ph.D, Director, Resorting America’s Forests, The Nature Conservancy.