More protection for forests in Colorado |

More protection for forests in Colorado

FRISCO, Colorado ” Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter has signed a bill designed to protect forest land, help local communities and stimulate economic activity.

The Healthy Forests and Vibrant Communities Act, signed Wednesday, requires the state forest service to adopt standards for community wildfire protection plans and to help communities draw up their own plans.

It also calls for creating new jobs improving forest conditions and in reforestation and setting up a loan fund for timber products manufacturing.

Ritter says Colorado forests are struggling with unprecedented challenges from the bark beetle epidemic and other risks.

The program will be paid for with $3 million from the severance tax fund collected by the state to compensate local communities for minerals that have been removed.

Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, said two U.S. House subcommittees will hold a hearing on the bark beetle infestation June 16.

Colorado lawmakers and business people will be among those testifying before the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands subcommittee and the Power and Water subcommittee.

Ritter also signed a bill Wednesday creating Colorado’s first ski and snowboard license plate.

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