Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet released the following statement on the preliminary report released by the City of Colorado Springs on Waldo Canyon Fire and the city’s response efforts.
“This report will help provide insight into how best to respond to catastrophic wildfires like the Waldo Canyon Fire, which we know devastated Colorado Springs and the surrounding communities,” Bennet said. “Along with the review Senator Udall conducted and a U.S. Forest Service study we requested, the local Emergency Management report helps local communities be better prepared to protect people and their property as well as prevent some of the devastating damage we saw. Our climate and landscape make attention to wildfires prevention critical, and we must do everything we can to be prepared in the future.”
Bennet’s and Udall’s request for a study asks the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Forest Service to help instruct policymakers, firefighters and forest management agencies to better protect our state from the impacts of future fires.
Bennet and Udall have worked to leverage federal resources during and after the devastating 2012 fires throughout Colorado. They wrote a letter to the president signed by the Colorado delegation to help secure a swift federal disaster declaration as the fires raged throughout the state. Both Udall and Bennet also wrote to the Administration to help secure SBA disaster loans for affected areas of the state, and worked closely with Colorado Springs leaders to secure a $100,000 competative grant to help the region recover from the economic impacts of the Waldo Canyon Fire. Udall and Bennet also are working to secure emergency funding for the Emergency Watershed Protection program, which provides support for rehabilitating and restoring watersheds in areas affected by wildfires and other natural disasters.
Bennet, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, fought for the reauthorization of stewardship contracting in the committee’s initial draft of the 2012 Farm Bill. Stewardship contracting authority is a critical tool for the Forest Service to implement projects that restore and maintain healthy forest ecosystems, and provide business opportunities and local employment. Colorado is currently among the states with the most stewardship contracts underway, with 34 projects totaling almost 12,000 acres.
Bennet and Udall has been vocal advocates for passage of the Farm Bill, which passed the Senate in June with bipartisan support. The bill includes vital resources to assist farmers and ranchers suffering from the drought and wildfire damage.