Grand County leads the way on many beetle kill issues |

Grand County leads the way on many beetle kill issues

To the Editor:

I was in Grand County on Oct. 31 and picked up a copy of the Ski-Hi Daily News. I was surprised to read the editorial of Oct. 30 that stated, “…Grand County is setting a sad example through the way we are dealing with the destruction left by our beetle kill infestation…”

I am the executive director of Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, one of the organizers of the Colorado Bark Beetle Cooperative, and have been at the forefront of the beetle wars for several years.

The county and municipal governments of Grand, Eagle, Jackson and Summit counties have been deeply involved with the mountain pine beetle epidemic for several years and are working cooperatively to address a huge multi-jurisdictional issue.

Grand County, as the epicenter and the area with the most experience, has led the way in many aspects of the beetle fight, from which the other counties have learned.

To partially base a conclusion on the fact that locally elected officials were “…noticeably missing from wildfire research discussion,” does not give credit for the scores of meetings attended by commissioners and mayors from Grand County over the past several years regarding this topic.

Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, as a recognized regional leader in the beetle effort, was not aware of the meeting in question because we were overlooked on the invitation list, which makes me wonder how many others were overlooked.

Please allow me to review just some of the important events in which elected officials from Grand County have been involved regarding the beetle situation:

– Granby Mayor Ted Wang was the spokesperson for a delegation of county commissioners and mayors who traveled to Washington, D.C., in summer 2006 and convinced the Colorado congressional delegation to work in a unified manner regarding legislation and budget requests for national forests in Colorado affected by the beetles.

– Kremmling Mayor Tom Clark served on the grant review and selection committee this past summer for awarding $1 million in state funds for watershed protection. The town of Grand Lake received $140,000 from that program made possible by HB 1130 in this year’s Legislature.

– Mayors Judy Burke (Grand Lake) and Wang worked with Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald and Representative Al White last winter to allocate money to the Colorado Department of Transportation to clear the right of way of beetle-killed trees on U.S. 34 to Grand Lake.

– Mayors Nick Teverbaugh (Winter Park), Wang and Clark along with commissioners James Newberry and Gary Bumgarner serve on the steering committee for the Colorado Bark Beetle Cooperative.

– Mayor Burke has led the Grand Lake Board of Trustees in an aggressive beetle-tree removal program including an ordinance, cost sharing and negotiated low-cost contracts.

I could go on with many more examples of how elected officials from Grand County are deeply engaged in the mountain pine beetle issue, but hopefully you get my point.

Do we need to form a county-wide front against beetle kill? Yes. We also need to form a region-wide front against beetle kill and the elected municipal and county officials from Grand County are among the leaders to advance the efforts of the Colorado Bark Beetle Cooperative.

Gary Severson

Executive director

Northwest Colorado Council of Governments

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