Udall, Bennet Announce Over $12 Million in Recovery Act Funding for Colorado Hazardous Fuels Reduction Projects

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet announced today that Colorado will receive $12.3 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to fund 5 hazardous fuels reduction projects across the state.

"This money is going to be a big help to our cash-strapped states, which are struggling to pay for basic expenses. And with wildfire season just weeks away, it couldn't come a moment too soon," Senator Udall said. "I have worked for many years to ensure the federal government is stepping up to the plate to help clear out bark beetle-infested trees and other fuels for destructive wildfire. So I know this funding will pay off in years to come for Colorado and other Western states. It will help protect people and property from wildfire, and keep our water supplies clean and our forests healthy and strong."

"With wildfire season fast approaching, it's important that we get out in front of the threat and reduce the risk of wildfire for Colorado's mountain communities," said Bennet, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry. "These funds will allow us to move forward with several worthwhile and long-neglected hazardous fuels projects that will put Coloradans to work and restore Colorado's forest health."

Hazardous fuels activities include reducing the volume of hazardous fuels on Federal forests and grasslands and on lands owned by States, local governments, private organizations, and individual land owners through financial assistance and partnership agreements.

PROJECTS
Community Wildfire Protection Plan Implementation, El Paso County
Wildland Fire Management
Estimated Funding: $ 4,487,000

High priority Forest Restoration and Fuels Mitigation, Gilpin County
Wildland Fire Management
Estimated Funding: $ 6,281,000

Veterans Jobs Project, Dolores County
Wildland Fire Management
Estimated Funding: $ 500,000

Project Summary: The Forest Service will be putting returning armed forces veterans to work reducing wildland fire potential in and around communities in southwest Colorado. Several locations on the San Juan National Forest will benefit from the work that veteran hand crews will perform. The backdrops to these projects are forested areas adjacent to communities. Veterans will be trained as sawyers and will use chainsaws to cut down dense stands of trees to reduce wildland fire potential for homeowners. A Veterans Green Jobs (VGJ) partnership, in cooperation with the Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) is designed to support military veterans to become leaders in the emerging green jobs industries. About 350 veterans have already applied to accomplish natural resource conservation and energy audit certification courses through this effort. The intent of ARRA is to create jobs and stimulate the economy. On the San Juan National Forest, many acres of non-mechanical healthy forest treatments will provide employment for veterans in need of jobs and civilian life reintegration and contribute to the improvement of forest health conditions.
Partners: Southwest Conservation Corps;Veterans Green Jobs

Boundary Identification for Fuels Reduction, Teller County
Wildland Fire Management
Estimated Funding: $ 200,000

Project Summary: With work focused on the Pike National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service will be able to accelerate the rate at which it moves closer to meeting the goal of reducing wildland fire risk in the wildland urban interface (WUI) along the Front Range of Colorado. This project will identify National Forest System (NFS) boundaries in support of high priority hazardous fuel reduction projects. It is vital to properly identify NFS lands so that fuel treatments are planned and executed efficiently. The boundary lines also allow adjacent private landowners to complete accurate fuel reduction treatments. This boundary work may also create an opportunity to secure right-of-way easements across private land for removal of woody material from NFS lands and for improved public access. The survey work will be completed through contracts.
Partners: Coalition for the Upper South Platte; Colorado State Forest Service; Woodland Park Healthy Forest Initiative; Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership; FRFTP Round Table

Girl Scout/Long John/Ridgewood Stewardship, Teller County
Wildland Fire Management
Estimated Funding: $ 820,000

Project Summary: Records of historic pine forest conditions east of the Continental Divide in Colorado indicate less dense tree stands than currently exist once dotted the landscape. This project's emphasis is removing trees in dense pine timber stands to emulate historic stand conditions. The Forest Service and its partners have the opportunity to treat both National Forest System and adjacent private land to reduce catastrophic wildfire risk and hazard and improve overall forest health around communities and subdivisions in Teller County, Colorado. Within the context of the larger landscape, this coordination of activities will also reduce fire risk and hazard for two critical watersheds that provide water for the Colorado Springs and Denver Metropolitan areas. An additional benefit is making woody biomass available to be mixed with coal as feedstock for a nearby coal power plant. This opportunity reduces transportation costs needed to move the biomass outside of the local area.
Partners: Coalition for the Upper South Platte; Colorado State Forest Service; City of Woodland Park
Colorado; Woodland Park Healthy Forest Initiative; Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership; FRFTP Roundtable