Wed July 11, 2012

Hickenlooper: Keep Forest Health in Farm Bill

The Farm Bill is so massive that experts typically quip we may as well call it the "food bill," or perhaps maybe the “forests bill.” 

That’s because one section even deals with how the US Department of Agriculture, which oversees the US Forest Service, doles out money for forest health projects. 

The state of Colorado’s forests and the destructive wildfire season so far are giving this part of the bill more attention than it usually gets.

As the US House Agriculture Committee is set to take its first look at the Farm Bill in the House today, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is urging lawmakers to keep the forest health provisions in the bill which passed the US Senate late last month

In a letter to the committee this week, he wrote:

"Colorado and many other Western states have been experiencing a particularly devastating and tragic wildfire season.  Many of the provisions in the House version of the 2012 Farm Bill under the forestry sections would be very helpful in addressing the forest conditions that lead to catastrophic wildfires, as would similar provisions in the Senate version."

The Governor went on to specifically mention incentive programs that allow beetle-killed trees to be harvested for biomass projects and programs that fast-track thinning and logging efforts in certain forests, among other things.

By law, the Farm Bill must be re-authorized every four years.