Udall wants funding to fight Colorado beetle epidemic | VailDaily.com

Udall wants funding to fight Colorado beetle epidemic

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

WASHINGTON – As firefighters battled blazes on the Front Range, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall urged officials in Washington, D.C., to recognize the threat posed by the bark beetle epidemic, and to provide adequate resources to prevent a potential disaster caused by dead and dying trees.

In a letter sent Friday to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Udall asked why the agency hasn’t responded to the need and repeated requests to use unspent funds to treat federal lands covered with beetle-killed trees.

“Colorado is ground zero for the bark beetle epidemic, with which the Rocky Mountain Region has grappled for more than 10 years,” Udall wrote. “The threat to public safety, critical infrastructure, recreational activities and water supplies intensifies with each passing year as the epidemic spreads. I am growing increasingly concerned about the possibility of wildfire igniting the millions of acres of dead trees across Colorado, causing an even greater disaster.”

Last October, Udall and a bipartisan group of Western senators asked the administration to re-direct $49 million in unspent money to help address bark-beetle killed forests in Colorado and elsewhere in the Mountain West. Although the department agreed to a similar request in fiscal year 2010, the administration hasn’t acted on the latest appeal.

In his letter, Udall asks Tidwell to do “a full accounting” of available Forest Service funds for fire suppression and to determine what can be used to fight the bark beetle in Colorado. –

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