Colorado Legislature Fiddles While State Burns: Denver Post

Who should pay for protective fuel mitigation treatments?

Who should pay for protective fuel mitigation treatments?

I try not to be too judgmental about these things, but it appears that based on this bill, the rest of the state (we are talking farmers in the Eastern Plains as well as urbanites) are going to pay for mitigation through tax credits rather than require homeowners to do it.  This whole approach strikes me as 1) not honoring the work of the task force, 2) not being willing to really address the problem and 3) not likely to be very effective. For Coloradans, we might want to write our legislators or call and let them know how we feel.

Here’s the link and below is an excerpt:

“We considered it, but no one thought about moving anything forward,” said Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, a member of the interim Wildfire Matters Review committee, about the recommendation of a fee on homeowners who choose to build in heavily wooded areas. “We want to provide incentives for people to do the right thing and keep firefighters safe.”

Some oppose fees

Developers and the real estate industry opposed fees on property owners and a state building code. If homeowners live in high-risk burn areas, they’re likely to pay higher insurance premiums, said Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

“But insurance companies consider a variety of risk factors, like building materials and distance to a fire station,” Walker said.

At a news conference Thursday to outline some of the proposed wildfire bills, Hickenlooper said issues such as fees and building codes are delegated to counties and municipalities.

While state resources are used to fight fires that often cross county lines, Hickenlooper said, “we don’t have to lean on (local governments) with a heavy shoulder.”

Hickenlooper agreed with Jones in calling for an incentives approach. Of the items outlined in the task force report, lawmakers on the interim committee did heed the suggestions of creating a tax credit for mitigation.

On Friday, perhaps the most ambitious proposal toward fighting Colorado’s wildfire epidemic is set to be unveiled by Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction; the measure calls for the state to fund its own aerial firefighting fleet. A bill sponsored by King last year and passed into law allowed the state to create its own fleet, but the measure had its funding stripped.

At the time, King, along with co-sponsor Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, estimated it would cost Colorado about $20 million annually to support a fleet of aircraft which would be paid for through a mix of public and private funds, advertising and a new state lottery game.

“This provides a solution to help save land, structures and Colorado drinking water. Fires are a clear danger,” King, a member of the interim committee, said this week. “Enough with the talk. Let’s pass this serious bill and get it funded and protect Colorado.”

4 Comments

  1. There was a good story on Colorado Matters on Thursday concerning the Pike Peak Report to the Governor on the Black Forest fire issued yesterday. The Report focuses on the responsibility of landowners to treat their fuels, among other issues.
    http://goo.gl/JWv20C Colorado Springs Gazette article mentioning the Report in the context of State legislation.
    http://www.ppwpp.org/ Link to Pike Peak Report to Governor on Black Forest Fire.
    http://goo.gl/4S36Rt link to Colorado Matters story on Report including what the firefighters think

  2. Around here, nowadays the homes that get built in the higher burn risk areas tend on average to be more upper-end homes, compared to those down in the flatlands (like where I live :-)) . Maybe it’s similar in Colorado. Which probably means there’s above-average political clout up there too, added to the developer and real estate interests. I guess it’s not surprising that such a consortium would put their support behind an upper-income-welfare system (tax credits) to be paid for by the rest of the state. I agree with the three points in Sharon’s first paragraph above.

  3. Guy, parts of CO are like that..in other parts, the whole town is in the woods. And many places, out in the woods are old cabins or mobiles When we worked on roadless, I thought a lot of the different points of view had to do with the mental image people have in mind when you think of WUI.. do you think of isolated 35 acre parcels, something in a forested subdivision, (like the Black Forest), a patch of tiny cabins, etc.

    I think that information (generally where and what price range of housing) is available in each state, but the clustering and relation to forest fuels is probably unique in each community.

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