State Sen. Nicholson eyes forest health bills
Grand County, CO Colorado
DENVER – Grand County’s new representative in the State Senate, Jeanne Nicholson (D-Black Hawk), will hold two stakeholder meetings on forest health issues at 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14 at the State Capitol, Room 352.
Nicholson is planning to introduce a bill this session to standardize the criteria for controlled and prescribed burns on private property. Currently, Grand County oversees its own model burn program with permission from the state’s Air Quality Control division.
“The goal,” Nicholson said, “is to encourage people to use prescribed burns to reduce the fuel load that we know puts our forest at greater risk of a catastrophic wildfire.”
Nicholson said the legislation should encourage private property owners to use prescribed burns when it’s not convenient to take their slash to a chipping site.
“But, we don’t want those fires to get out of control. We want people to do it safely,” she added.
The focus of Friday’s meeting will be to lay out specific conditions for allowing burns on private property.
“I want to let the fire experts tell me what should be in there,” she said. The bill might say, for example, that burns could only take place in winter when there’s more than 4 inches of snow on ground, Nicholson said.
The group will also discuss a bill aimed at creating a greater demand for forest products, particularly beetle kill products.
Nicholson said she has invited people from the Colorado State Forest Service and United States Forest Service as well as representatives from the timber industry to discuss what legislative opportunities exist for creating better demand for these products.
State Rep. Don Coram (R-Montrose) is working with Nicholson on these bills.
“I feel like it’s important to reach across the aisle on these forest health issues,” Nicholson said. “It’s more important to solve important problems than to bicker over anything.”
Nicholson can be reached through her legislative office at 303-866-4873.
This year’s regular session of the Colorado Legislature convenes on Jan. 12.
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