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Wildfire bill stirs local opposition

by Jon Robinson (webmaster) |

The Healthy Forest Restoration Act, whose drafters say is aimed at stemming the destruction caused by wildfires, is winning support in Washington D.C. But Eagle County's congressman, Boulder Democrat Mark Udall, says it leaves homeowners vulnerable and "unnecessarily guts important environmental laws."

"It's filled with controversy, not consensus," Udall says. "It's a recipe for lawsuits and will further delay our attempts to reduce the danger of wildfire on our national forests."

Division over the Healthy Forest Act, sponsored by Rep. Scott McInnis, a Grand Junction Republican who formerly represented Eagle County, has sparked strong language from both sides. The bill, approved this week by a House committee, would permit 1,000-acre "clear cuts" of national forests to prevent the spread of fires and voracious insects. Such forest thinning is not disputed as a way to block the spread of fires or bugs in forests that have grown too dense because of the suppression of fires in the past.