10:40am

Thu June 20, 2013
Wildfires

Colorado Republicans Introduce Air Tanker Amendment In House Farm Bill

As wildfires burn across Colorado, the state’s four Republican congressmen introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill aimed at adding additional air tankers to fight wildfires.

Update 12:28 p.m. - The House version of the Farm Bill was voted down Thursday, 234-195. Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner voted 'Aye' on the bill. Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn were a 'No' vote.

Democrats Diana DeGette, Jared Polis, and Ed Perlmutter were all 'No' votes.

As Jeremy Bernfeld writes for Harvest Public Media: "In the end Thursday, House leaders couldn’t cobble together enough votes, especially with many fiscally conservative Republicans opposing the bill." You can read more on the vote for the Farm Bill at Harvest Public Media.

Our original post continues:

The amendment [.pdf] introduced by Representatives Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn, Mike Coffman, and Cory Gardner will allow the Forest Service to lease new air tankers for fighting wildfires. According to a statement released by Congressman Tipton, only decommissioned military tankers can be leased.  With those in such limited supply the USFS fleet has dropped from more than 40 tankers in the early 2000’s to just nine.

“Air tankers are critical for combatting [sic] the devastating wildfires that have ravaged Colorado and Western States over the past decade.  This amendment will provide the Forest Service with needed flexibility to upgrade its fleet and have access to the tools necessary to suppress wildfires and limit destruction,” Tipton said. 

Many of those precious air resources have been flooding into Jefferson County where the Lime Gulch Fire burns uncontained south of Conifer or approximately 42 miles southwest of Denver.

According to inciweb.org multiple air tankers are battling the blaze. In addition, specially equipped Military C130’s, activated by congressional request to fight the Black Forest Fire, are also battling the blaze.

Meanwhile, Colorado Democratic Congressman Jared Polis along with Cory Gardner introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill prioritizing Emergency Watershed Protection Funds for states like Colorado facing wildfires.

More than 200 amendments were introduced for inclusion in the 2013 House Farm Bill. Of those, just over 100, including the Colorado delegations amendments; are scheduled for possible debate and vote on the floor this week or next.