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Gov. Hickenlooper: ‘Need Urgency In Improving Health Of Forests’

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Beetle-killed trees (credit: CBS)

Beetle-killed trees (credit: CBS)

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- While Colorado continues to fight its worst wildfire season in history, Gov. John Hickenlooper said we need more urgency in improving the health of our forests.

“We’re going to assume we’re going to have another drought so we’re going to prepare for the worst case scenario and begin turning up the sense of urgency,” said Hickenlooper.

Sighting the three major fires in the mixed zone of forest and civilization, Hickenlooper said it’s long overdue for the state to take a proactive approach with forest health and its impact on wildfire mitigation.

“There hasn’t been an integrated plan for the state and that’s long overdue so we’re going to fix that,” said Hickenlooper. “Summit County is really the leader in our state in terms of what is forest health, how do we mitigate risk of forest fires and what is our response. Once we have a fire, how do we get a better response?”

The epidemic really hit Summit County a decade ago. Four years ago voters approved a tax that generates $500,000 to go toward forest health issues.

“Our forest health challenges here in Summit County are enormous; we have more than 140,000 acres of dead trees,” said Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs. “We’re really experiencing the aftermath right now. So the trees are going to eventually come down.”

Nearly everyone agrees that something needs to be done, perhaps a grass roots effort to solve the problem. But right now it’s too early for answers.

“But what are possible solutions so we can get some body in and go to the legislature and say, ‘Alright, here’s what we want to do,'” said Hickenlooper.

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