Udall gets Senate committee OK for more bark beetle funds | VailDaily.com

Udall gets Senate committee OK for more bark beetle funds

Daily staff report
newsroom@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Udall’s bill, the National Forest Insect and Disease Emergency Act, won approval by the Senate’s Energy and National Resources Committee Thursday. The bill provides the U.S. Forest Service with additional resources and authority to treat areas affected by bark beetles and other insect-related problems.

“Today, we’re one step closer to strengthening our response to the bark-beetle epidemic that threatens communities throughout Colorado and the West,” Senator Udall said. “My bill will help the Forest Service focus treatment in the areas at high risk from wildfire and falling dead trees. It also encourages the conversion of removed dead trees into biofuels, a cleaner-burning energy source – ensuring that some good comes from this devastating natural disaster. The next step is passage by the full Senate, and I’ll be working to include our bill in a broader public lands package that I’ll be pushing for a vote on before the end of this year.”

Among other provisions, the National Forest Insect and Disease Emergency Act:

• Identifies by map the areas affected by the epidemic, including those in which trees pose a high risk to public health and safety,

• Focuses resources within these emergency areas to mitigate hazards associated with falling trees and wildfire, and

• Authorizes the use of “good neighbor agreements” between state and federal agencies to provide more effective and efficient forest management across certain federal land boundaries.