Forest Service brings stimulus dollars to Grand County | SkyHiNews.com

Forest Service brings stimulus dollars to Grand County

Tonya Bina
tbina@skyhidailynews.com
Grand County, Colorado

U.S. Forest lands in Colorado have been targeted for stimulus recovery.

Three forests in Colorado ” the Arapaho-Roosevelt, Medicine Bow-Routt and Pike-San Isabel National Forests ” are initially receiving $5.6 million for beetle-kill tree removal projects and improvements to recreation sites.

“We’re going to be able to get a whole lot more of hazardous fuel reductions done as a result,” said District Ranger of the Sulphur Ranger District Craig Magwire, in Granby. “The recovery money is going toward projects to protect our communities and our watersheds from potential wildfire. For us in the Valley, it’s a great story.”

Out of a total of $1.15 billion in economic recovery funds given to the U.S. Forest Service, $98 million has already been assigned to 10 percent of the Forest Service projects ready-to-go nationwide, creating an initial 1,500 jobs, according to Forest statements released on Wednesday.

Magwire said the Sulphur Ranger District is making itself a candidate to gain more funding as more comes available.

The remaining bulk of overall Forest stimulus money should generate 23,500 more jobs when distributed, the press release states.

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With the first round of economic recovery awarded to Colorado, clearing away dead trees is the main thrust.

About $500,000 “will pay for an agreement with the Colorado Youth Conservation Corps that will employ up to four 10-person teams of young adults,” ages 18- to 25-years-old, to clear beetle-kill trees in the Routt National Forest.

The money also applies to fuels-reduction projects on forest-bordering communities on the Front Range.

The U.S. Forest Service reports that 900,000 new acres of infested trees, with about 400,000 of those acres in Colorado, were spotted in the 2008 summer aerial survey for northern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming.

This beetle epidemic has affected almost 2.5 million acres from the first signs of outbreak in 1996 ” 2 million acres of which are in Colorado.

Forests throughout a five-state Rocky Mountain Region including Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota, submitted projects for consideration of stimulus funds. The USDA and Forest Service are determining how the remaining Recovery funds will be allocated. Under the language of the Act, “the Forest Service will use the money to create as many jobs as possible to support communities and get money flowing through the economy again.”

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@skyhidailynews.com.

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