Washington, D.C. – At last week’s Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet invited fellow Coloradan Jim Hubbard—if confirmed as Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the USDA—to travel to Colorado to discuss the next steps for the Forest Service. Hubbard has since replied that he would be “happy to meet in Colorado for the discussion.”
“In Colorado, our expanding outdoor economy, paired with the increasing challenge of climate change, make it all the more important to have solution-oriented leaders at USDA like Jim Hubbard,” Bennet said. “We’re looking forward to welcoming Mr. Hubbard back to Colorado as the Forest Service prioritizes new projects to safeguard the health of our forests and watersheds.”
During the visit, Bennet plans to convene a group to hear how the Forest Service will implement the forestry package passed in the 2018 omnibus spending bill, which included a “fire fix” and new forest management tools. The fire fix is set to unlock resources by ending fire borrowing—the practice of taking money from other Forest Service accounts to pay to fight fires—beginning in 2020. These new resources will support forest health and recreation needs in Colorado.
Bennet is the Ranking Member of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources. In 2013, Hubbard, then-Deputy Chief of State and Private Forestry at the Forest Service, testified before the subcommittee calling for an end to fire borrowing to spur investments in forest health and reduce wildfire risk. Last week, Bennet welcomed Hubbard back to the Agriculture Committee and introduced him at the hearing. A video of Bennet’s remarks is available HERE.
In March, after years of work, Bennet secured a long-term fire funding fix in the omnibus spending bill to end fire borrowing and improve how the federal government pays to fight wildfires. The bill also included a variety of new, bipartisan forest management reforms, which improve and expand Bennet-authored forestry provisions, such as Good Neighbor Authority. More information about the fire fix is available HERE.