Gov. Ritter signed 5 bills yesterday. From a press release:
Sen. Dan Gibbs and Rep. Christine Scanlan sponsored SB 1, which supports communities in preventing and preparing for wildfires.
“As a wildland firefighter I know how important community prevention plans are in terms of public safety for the citizens of Colorado,” Sen. Gibbs said. “I’m pleased that Gov. Ritter signed this bill today and that it soon will be in place to help communities when wildfires strike. It will help communities prioritize, prevent, and prepare for wildfires in their area. With 2 million acres of dead lodge-pole pine and about 1 million Coloradans living in the wildland urban interface, SB 1 will bring the tools, resources and assistance to help people prepare for the worst.”
“Having a preparedness plan ready to go before firefighters hit the ground to battle a wildfire will help tremendously in emergency situations,” Rep. Scanlan said. “Colorado has more than 22 million acres of forested land, and with the threat of fire due to the dead lodge-pole pine, we need to take these steps now to protect our natural habitat and Coloradans who are living within the wildland urban interface.”
This is a good bill. But it won’t bring all the tools, resources and assistance to help people prepare for the worst. Some, yes. Most – I don’t know. But certainly not all. There are over 2 million acres of dead pines just waiting for a bad summer of lightning. Their only good news this year? The drought afflicting the Front Range hasn’t been felt in the mountains – precipitation this winter has been over average. A dry spring, summer or fall could change things quickly. The bottom line is there is simply no feasible way to handle that many acres of dead trees. Public education and expanded preventative roles will help though.