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Hickenlooper, Bennet, Neguse Advocate for Forest and Watershed Health on Colorado’s Western Slope

Oct 18, 2023

The Colorado lawmakers called on federal agencies to prioritize Western Slope counties while implementing the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet and Congressman Joe Neguse wrote to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) urging the USFS to prioritize funding for forest and watershed health in national forests on Colorado’s Western Slope, which serve as headwaters for rivers and streams extending beyond state boundaries. 

Colorado has experienced numerous devastating wildfires over the past several years… Many recovering communities are still working to address the lingering watershed devastation,” the lawmakers wrote. “We implore you to prioritize projects that protect the Upper Colorado River Basin headwaters, much of which falls within Colorado’s national forests.” 

Historic investments made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act will provide states, tribal communities, and partners across the West with $10 billion in federal funding to address wildland fire and forest health. After an uptick in wildfires across the state of Colorado, including the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak fires in 2020, Senators Hickenlooper and Bennet and Representative Neguse are calling for frequent updates on the status of the implementation of these funds, noting their impact on forest health and watershed management.

“Watershed protection for the Colorado River and its tributaries is essential for the West’s communities, ecosystems, and economies, particularly as we face climate change-driven aridification and heightened wildfire risk. When we invest in forest health, we invest in the health of watersheds—which are critically important to communities across Colorado and the West,” continued the lawmakers.

Over the past year, Hickenlooper, Bennet and Neguse announced nearly $750 million in federal funding to support the state of Colorado in bolstering forest and watershed health and preventing wildfires. These investments include: 

  • $720 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Program, including for the Southern Front Range Watershed Project;

  • $5.1 million for fuels management wildfire resiliency projects;

  • $20 million for the Colorado State University Forest Restoration Research; 

  • And, $39 million to support fire rehabilitation efforts in the areas impacted by the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome fires.

Hickenlooper was part of a bipartisan group of 22 senators who negotiated and wrote the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and was instrumental in passing the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Read the full letter HERE


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