Tipton Introduces Wildfire Resolution in the House

WASHINGTON Stressing that many of the fires burning in Colorado and in Western forests could have been prevented, today, Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) introduced a resolution on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to express the sense of the House that more needs to be done to manage federal forests and take action to immediately address the conditions that lead to catastrophic wildfires, including those currently burning in the 3rd District. The resolution is co-sponsored by Western Caucus Chairmen Steve Pearce (R-NM) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Reps. Mike Coffman (R-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO).

“Brave men and women are working around-the-clock to stop the devastation. They are truly incredible, and I want to thank them for all they are doing to protect property, save lives and contain these wildfires,” Tipton said on the House floor. “The incident commanders in charge of suppression efforts on the West Fork Fire—the nation’s highest priority—told me this week that the behavior of the fire is unprecedented. Because of all of the beetle-killed timber, unnaturally dense forest and dry conditions, the fire has acted in a way that defies computer models and has been incredibly devastating. The most tragic part of this is that the occurrence of these forest fires could be reduced, if not outright prevented, with commonsense healthy forest management. With this in mind I have put forward this resolution.”

VIDEO: Tipton introduces the Wildfire Resolution on the House floor:

An excerpt of Tipton’s resolution, which he read on the House floor, follows:

It is the sense of the House of Representatives that—

Allocating the appropriate resources to wildland fire management is needed to protect the environment, the economy, and the people of the United States;

The bravery of the men and women who risk their lives to extinguish these conflagrations can never be questioned;

A healthy forest policy must include prescribed thinning;

Funding to fight and prevent wildfires is essential to public safety, environmental protection and economic growth;

People who live in or near our national forests have a right to expect the greatest possible protection for their homes and property.

The Government should not continue acquire more land when hundreds of millions of acres already controlled by the Government are mismanaged; and

The Forest Service should proactively manage federal forest lands in a manner that- protects life and property; prevents catastrophic wildfire; promotes forest and watershed health; and creates jobs and economic development in the forest products industry." 

Read the full resolution here.

Last year Colorado experienced two record breaking fires, and already this year the Black Forest Fire has killed two people and destroyed more homes than any other in Colorado history. Currently, the West Fork Complex Fire burning in the 3rd District is out of control and is the nation’s highest fire priority. In 2012, Colorado wildfires destroyed nearly 650 structures, killed six Coloradans, burned more than 384,000 acres of land, and caused over $538 million in property losses. With dry conditions, poor forest health, and fires burning throughout the state, this year is shaping up to be equally devastating.

The cost of proactive healthy forest management is far less than the cost of wildfire suppression and cleaning up the aftermath. According to the Forest Service, the agency spent $296 million on hazardous fuels treatment nationwide in FY2012 while spending $1.77 billion on wildfire suppression during the same time. Tipton has introduced legislation of which Reps. Pearce, Lummis, Coffman, Gardner and Lamborn are co-sponsors, to streamline hazardous fuels reduction projects and make up-front investments in forest health and prevention. More information on that legislation is available here. Tipton has also passed amendments to combat wildfire and invest in disaster prevention.