Fri December 2, 2011

Study Calls Sustained Funding ‘Essential’ for Fighting Bark Beetle Epidemic

A new study by the U.S. Forest Service says sustained funding from the government will be “essential” for the agency to continue its fight against the bark beetle epidemic. An estimated 41 million acres of western forests have already been destroyed by the insects--including 4 million in Colorado and Wyoming.

The U.S. Forest Service says budget cuts are forcing the federal government to limit its response to the bark beetle outbreak. A study requested by U.S. Senator Mark Udall says the Forest Service is focusing its limited funds on protecting lives, communities and critical water supplies by removing dead trees from hazardous areas.

Jennifer Talhelm, a spokesperson for Senator Udall, says he’ll use the study to update policy and priorities outlined in legislation that he unsuccessfully introduced in 2009 and 2010.

“Part of the reason why the senator wanted the study was to compile information and make sure he’s addressing the needs of community," she says.

Udall plans to introduce that legislation in 2012.