Bennet Continues 'Fighting for Colorado Families' Tour - Visits With U.S. Forest Service Employees Working to Reduce Forest Fire Hazards

Granby, CO - In an effort to highlight the important work of Coloradans in keeping the state's forests healthy, Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today met with U.S. Forest Service employees at Willow Creek Picnic Area, where they are cutting down bark beetle infested trees to reduce forest fire hazards.

"The essential work these men and women are doing will help reduce the danger bark beetle-infested trees pose to Colorado families and communities," Bennet said. "Their work is critical to keeping our forests healthy and our local communities safe. We need to make sure local communities and forest officials have all the resources they need to address this massive problem facing the entire state."

The bark beetle epidemic in the central Rocky Mountains is larger than any previously recorded in the area and is expanding rapidly. In 2008, aerial surveys detected 6.42 million acres of forest affected across the Western United States, including Colorado. Public safety concerns resulting from the infestation include fire hazards as well as threats to water supplies and falling dead trees along utility corridors, roads, trails and other infrastructure.

Bennet's visit sought to highlight the important work of the Forest Service to keep Colorado's forests healthy and ensure the safety of local communities. By cutting down these trees, especially near picnic and campground areas, these projects are making the state's forests safer for Coloradans to enjoy. Hazardous fuels activities include reducing the volume of hazardous fuels on federal forests and grasslands and on lands owned by the state, local governments, private organizations, and individual land owners through financial assistance and partnership agreements.

After his visit to the hazardous fuel mitigation site, he traveled to the Rocky Mountain Pellet Factory in Walden, which converts felled bark beetle infested trees to wood pellets that are a true renewable biomass fuel, helping to power local school and government offices and creating local jobs.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has provided $12 million dollars for hazardous fuel mitigation projects in Colorado.