DENVER – The Wilderness Society is calling on the U.S. Forest Service to carefully spend an additional $40 million that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack committed today “to address public safety concerns and forest health needs arising from the millions of acres of dead and dying trees from bark beetle infestations in the West.” He made the announcement with Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.
“Having new money to address forest health issues is welcome news,” said Suzanne Jones, regional director of The Wilderness Society’s Colorado office. “Funding to get boots on the ground has been the limiting factor in getting numerous agreed-upon thinning and prescribed burning projects completed. The important thing is that this money be spent responsibly on the priorities where there is widespread agreement: reducing fuel loads in the wildland-urban interface to protect homes, communities and other important infrastructure and address safety concerns around campgrounds and along power lines and roads.
“We should remember, however, that there is a need to reduce fuel loads near communities whether you are in beetle country or not, so we hope that this focus on beetles does not detract from the important forest restoration work that also needs to be done in other forest types around the state, such as here on the Front Range.”
For more information: Read forest ecologist Greg Aplet’s seven-point fact sheet on beetle infestation.