Bennet, Udall Ask House Committee to Authorize Fire Mitigation, Forest Health Law

In a letter to the House Agriculture Committee, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined Sen. Mark Udall to urge the chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and the committee's ranking member, Rep. Colin Peterson, D-Minn., to reauthorize Stewardship Contracting Projects as part of a robust forestry title in the house version of the 2012 Farm Bill.  Stewardship Contracting Projects allow the federal government to contract with businesses to remove forest products from federal land to reduce the risk of forest fires, improve forest health and strengthen wildlife habitat.

"We included Stewardship Contracting in the Senate Committee's version of the Farm Bill because it's an important tool to restore and maintain healthy forests while providing local employment opportunities," said Bennet, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee who helped push through reauthorization of the program during the committee process.  "In Colorado, we have more stewardship contracts underway than any other state, and reauthorization in the House bill would take us one step closer toward ensuring that work can continue."

"I am committed to using every tool possible to strengthen our forests, which protect Colorado's irreplaceable watersheds and provide the basis for a large part of the recreation, tourism and agriculture that sustain our economy," Udall said.  "Now more than ever, with Colorado's forests unusually dry and prone to fire, we need to leverage every tool available to mitigate wildfires in Colorado."

To read the letter, click HERE.  Stewardship Contracting Projects help Colorado's rural economies by allowing the Forest Service to partner with businesses to promote forest health and create jobs.  The program also will ensure the proper stewardship of Colorado's beautiful public lands and natural resources, which bring millions of tourists to the state each year and inject billions of dollars into Colorado's economy.

The 2012 Farm Bill is expected to come before the U.S. Senate later this week.  The Farm Bill provides critical support for farmers, rancher and rural communities.  The bill, which also authorizes critical food assistance programs, is projected to reduce the deficit by more than $23 billion over 10 years.