2:23pm

Fri June 22, 2012
Wildfires

Udall Praises Forest Service Air Tanker Fleet

Colorado Senator Mark Udall was briefed Friday about efforts to contain the High Park Fire, as well as the strength of the US Forest Service air tanker fleet. 

Speaking on the runway of the tanker base in Broomfield, Udall praised the role air tankers have played in controlling the spread of the blaze.

“This is an investment we made, as taxpayers, to develop this capacity to fight fires with aerial assets. These are true professionals. The mapping, the technology, the knowledge we have that has allowed us to bring this fire -a very dangerous, high intensity fire- under control as quickly as we have is impressive. It’s worth continuing the investment and frankly, supporting the people who work here.”

Udall has been an outspoken critic of the US Forest Service and its aging fleet, which dwindled to just 11 planes earlier this year. The Senator noted a bipartisan effort to push a bill through congress that authorized the Forest Service to contract 7 additional planes as essential for future firefighting efforts.

The Senator praised firefighters working to contain multiple blazes around the state and says Coloradans need to remain patient. Likening the efforts to a war, Udall is confident all assets will be available if needed. 

“[Colorado] is a tinderbox right now. This is one of the most extreme fire seasons we’ve experienced in many a decade.”

Udall noted his work to double the funding of Pine Beetle fuel reduction in the state, saying Colorado has the resources to perform mitigation, but simply needed the funding.