Photos & Videos Embedded Below from Visits in Summit, Routt, Jackson, and Grand Counties
DENVER – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet spent the August Senate recess talking to Coloradans about natural resources and rural economic opportunities in Summit, Routt, Jackson, and Grand counties. He also hosted public town halls in Steamboat Springs and Granby.
In Summit County, Bennet visited the Buffalo Mountain fire break in Silverthorne to review how recent wildfire mitigation efforts saved nearly 1,400 homes, totaling approximately $1 billion in property. Bennet visited the same site in 2012, where he met with community leaders and the Forest Service to support the mitigation work. Following the successful fire break years later, Bennet is working to empower the Forest Service to replicate this success by ending fire borrowing so the agency can invest more in wildfire mitigation projects. As Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources, Bennet also is working to pass provisions in the upcoming Farm Bill, modeled after these successful partnerships in Colorado, to improve watershed health. Photos are available HERE.
“There are things we can do in advance of wildfires that will make people and homes safer, and ultimately save us a lot of money,” Bennet said. “I’ll keep working with the Forest Service as they implement the fire fix and new management tools we passed this year to increase wildfire mitigation efforts across Colorado.”
In Routt County, Bennet met with veterans and sportsmen on a parcel of land that was acquired with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to improve access to the Yampa River. The group emphasized the urgent need to reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF before it expires at the end of September. Photos are available HERE.
“The LWCF is an incredible success because we’ve preserved land all over America,” Bennet said. “There’s literally a project in every single county across the country. With the support of a diverse group of voices—from sportsmen to veterans—we must reauthorize and fully fund this program before it expires next month.”
Also in Routt County, Bennet toured the Ladder Ranch on the Colorado-Wyoming border, where ranchers are finding solutions to become more resilient to low water and drought. The projects are the result of “stacked conservation”—using multiple funding streams and partnerships to enhance agricultural productivity and improve wildlife habitat. They include upgraded irrigation systems and rock structures supported by Farm Bill Conservation Funding and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Photos are available HERE.
“Conservation is part of the lifestyle for ranchers in the West—especially as they face the challenges of persistent drought,” Bennet said. “We’ll continue to support full conservation funding in the Farm Bill so that producers can access resources to implement local, collaborative solutions to water and wildlife challenges.”
In Grand County, Bennet visited Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) to learn more about Colorado’s National Parks’ maintenance backlog and advance bipartisan legislation to reduce the backlog. At RMNP, the backlog is estimated to be $84 million for projects such as road maintenance, visitor center improvements, and employee housing. At land management agencies like the National Park Service (NPS), budgets have remained flat despite increased visitation. Photos are available HERE.
“For several years, we’ve seen the effects of chronic underfunding of our public land management agencies—and the National Park Service is one of the most glaring examples,” Bennet said. “National Parks not only contribute to our economy, but are cornerstones of the legacy we’ll leave our children and grandchildren. We must support robust funding for NPS and pass our legislation to address this maintenance backlog across the county.”
Rural Economic Opportunities
In Jackson County, Bennet met with a group of teachers, parents, and community leaders in Walden to hear about the challenges families face when raising kids in rural communities.
“Everyone depends on someone who depends on childcare and eldercare, but as a society, we have not adjusted work to recognize this reality,” Bennet said. “I want to keep hearing from parents and teachers like all of you so we can work together on solutions to the rising costs of living, including child care, health care, and housing.”
In Grand County, Bennet held a roundtable to discuss economic opportunities in rural communities. The most salient topics included affordable housing and labor shortages for small businesses, and the need for investments in infrastructure.
“We need to take a hard look at how the federal government can more effectively invest in rural infrastructure in counties like Grand,” Bennet said. “I’m grateful to Grand County Commissioners and the Grand County Economic Development team for helping gather the group of community and economic leaders for the first of many critical discussions.”