FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Sen. Michael Bennet wants to make sure his constituents throughout Colorado have the protection they need from wildfires this summer.

He toured the Galena Fire burn area in Lory State Park Tuesday. It was the first major fire of 2013 and scorched more 1,300 acres.

The Democrat echoed what many in Colorado are already thinking.

“It seems like every year it’s coming earlier and earlier,” he said.

And it’s those concerns that has Bennet talking about how local and federal governments can work together.

“What I wanted to hear from the local law enforcement community and the first responders was what they’re experiencing on the ground,” he said.

“These guys, these first responders have to fight these fires and do mitigation for these fires without Washington tying their hands behind their backs,” Bennet said.

The senator said he also wants to expand the “Good Neighbor Policy.” That allows local firefighters to work on federal lands in an emergency. Right now that’s only allowed in Colorado and Utah. Bennet said other states can benefit from the practice.

“Fires don’t stop just because part of it’s state (land) and part of it’s federal (land),” he said.

Local officials say they welcomed the chance to hear from the senator and share their ideas with him.

“I think what he’s doing is great,” said Larry Butterfield, park manager at Lory. “He continues to advocate for the people of Colorado. That’s a tremendous help.”

Investigators believe the Galena Fire was human-caused and have turned the investigation over to the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office to determine the next step.


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