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Bucks for beetles: Bipartisan farm bill amendment to double funds for beetle mitigation passes U.S. Senate

More federal funding could help western forests recover from the bark beetle epidemic.

House gets another crack at measure

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is one step closer to getting a funding boost for bark beetle mitigation, as a 2012 Farm Bill amendment offered by Sen. Mark Udall and Sen. Michael Bennet passed the Senate Wednesday.

The amendment would double the proposed budget for beetle-related forest work from $100 million to $200 million. The full budget bill still has to pass the Senate, then heads back to the House.

Along with funding, Udall and Bennet want to see more public-private sector partnerships developed to address bark-beetle epidemic.

“Bark beetles have devastated stands of trees throughout Colorado and the western United States and are even now providing fuel for wildfire,” Udall said. “This amendment will help our forest managers remove beetle-killed trees from our forests and reduce the wildfire risk to human life and homes. My amendment also will bolster the ability of sawmills and biomass-energy facilities to use beetle-killed timber to create jobs.”

“This amendment will help make Colorado’s forests safer and healthier,” Bennet said. “It represents a bipartisan effort to respond to the devastation that bark beetles have left behind in Colorado and throughout the West by safely removing dead and dying trees while creating jobs and spurring economic growth and protecting Coloradans.”

Bark beetles have killed more than 41.7 million acres of trees throughout the western United States, including 21.7 million acres of trees in the intermountain west.

You can watch Udall’s floor speech in favor of the amendment by clicking HERE.

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