WHEREAS Colorado’s forests are world renowned for their scenic beauty and the recreational opportunities they provide; and
WHEREAS the national forests in Colorado and across the country have undesirable forest conditions including dangerously, high fuel loads, unnaturally dense forests, and unprecedented insect caused tree mortality and severe fire risk; and
WHEREAS sixty eight percent of Colorado’s 24.4 million acres of forestland are under federal management, the majority under US Forest Service management; and
WHEREAS Colorado and the western United States are experiencing the largest bark beetle outbreak in recorded history; and
WHEREAS although western forests have experienced regular infestations throughout their history, the current epidemic is notable for its intensity, extensive geographic range, and simultaneous occurrence inmultiple ecosystems; and
WHEREAS since 2002 wildfires in Colorado have burned over a million acres, including the most destructive fires in Colorado history burning over 1,000 structures, and tragically taking lives; and
WHEREAS the wildfires have cost Colorado and the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars in firefighting costs, rehabilitation costs, and indirect costs; and
WHEREAS while addressing these complex and unprecedented forest conditions, the federal government has struggled with appropriating adequate funding for proactive vegetation management for the national forests in Colorado; and
WHEREAS the US Forest Service’s fire budget grew from 13% of the total US Forest Service budget to 40% between FY 1991 and FY 2012 which causes fire borrowing challenges on an annual basis; and
WHEREAS as a consequence of the increased fire budget, the US Forest Service’s vegetation management funding is decreasing as a core expenditure of the Forest Service budget, and the Office of Management and Budget is dramatically decreasing budgets for hazardous fuels treatments which equates to drastic reductions in acres treated and overall increased risk to fire and insects; and
WHEREAS Colorado entities have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in treatments, rehabilitation, and repairs to infrastructure such as reservoirs and roads, and
WHEREAS the US Forest Service has adopted new strategies including the “Western Bark Beetle Strategy” and more recently a study on “Increasing the Pace of Restoration and Job Creation on Our National Forests”, and
WHEREAS Colorado has an established and growing timber management industry to treat acres at the lowest possible cost while supplies of sawtimber are too small to sustain those companies,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that CLUB 20 urges the Congress to give higher priority to funding proactive vegetation management of the national forests and that staffing levels and efficiencies reflect this priority.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 urges the Congress that fire suppression funding should be allocated in an appropriate line item or segregated account, rather than borrowed from the annual Forest Service operating budget to enable realistic, consistent proactive forest management or at the very least address the detrimental effects of fire borrowing.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 urges the Congress that the US Forest Service recognize the uniquely challenging issues cumulatively and simultaneously affecting nearly one-quarter of Colorado’s National Forests by investing more vegetation management dollars in Region 2.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 urges the Congress that the Colorado forest products companies and their need for a sawtimber supply should be a fundamental priority in planning vegetation management projects and allocating budgets.