Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and Colorado U.S. Representatives Joe Neguse and Brittany Pettersen say they welcome an announcement from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) of $37 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to mitigate wildfire risks in Colorado’s Arapahoe, Roosevelt and Pike-San Isabel National Forests.
This announcement comes after Bennet, Hickenlooper, Neguse, and Colorado U.S. Representatives Jason Crow, Ed Perlmutter, and Diana DeGette urged the USFS in November to move expeditiously to allocate the forestry funding from the BIL and the IRA.
The Colorado Front Range has been identified by the USFS as a high-risk fireshed in their Confronting the Wildfire Crisis strategy. It is one of the ten Initial Landscapes Investments to receive funding. The Arkansas River Valley is considered part of the watershed of the Front Range.
“In recent years, Colorado has experienced some of the most catastrophic wildfires on record,” said Bennet. “This funding will proactively treat high-risk forests to protect Front Range communities, including our watersheds. I welcome the additional investment and look forward to working with the Forest Service to secure more funding for pressing forestry needs throughout Colorado.”
“We fought for Colorado in the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and our state is already seeing the results. This funding will keep our forests healthy and help prevent future wildfires,” said Hickenlooper.
“As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Wildfire Caucus, I’ve worked for years with my colleagues to secure additional resources for crucial wildfire mitigation efforts in our national forests. I’m grateful to welcome this critical funding to our state, which has been the epicenter for some of the most destructive wildfires in the country,” said Neguse. “Thanks to the Infrastructure Law, these resources will help to mitigate the risk of wildfires in our forests and mountain communities across Colorado.”
“Wildfires are one of the biggest risks to communities across Colorado, especially in the Front Range, and climate change is just intensifying the severity and frequency of these fires,” said Pettersen. “We have so many brave firefighters risking their lives to protect our homes, forests, and towns–including my own brother. This federal funding will make it possible for the Forest Service to proactively mitigate wildfire risks, easing the burden on firefighters and helping us preserve our natural treasures for the next generation.”
As a longstanding member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Bennet has pushed to make major investments in our forests to help confront climate change. The IRA invests $5 billion to restore the health of our forests to prevent wildfires, modeled after his Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act. At Bennet’s urging, the BIL also made a major investment in the health of our forests – for a combined historic $10 billion investment in our forests.
Last week, Bennet led Hickenlooper, Neguse, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis in urging USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and USFS Chief Randy Moore to distribute funding and resources to address post-fire recovery needs from the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak fires in Colorado.
Last year, Bennet, Hickenlooper, and Neguse joined U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland and Chief Moore to announce over $33 million in funding from the BIL to help Colorado prevent and mitigate wildfires.