State and U.S. Forest Service Briefing
COMMITTEE ON JOINT AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
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07:35 AM -- State and U.S. Forest Service Briefing
Jeff Jahnke, Director of the Colorado State Forest Service, introduced the agenda for the forest health presentation (Attachment A). He discussed the State of Colorado 2008 Report on the Health of Colorado's Forests (Attachment B), which focused this year on high elevation forests above 9,000 feet. He described the results of a 2008 aerial survey conducted by the State Forest Service which showed the impact of mountain pine and spruce beetle as well as aspen decline. Mr. Janke provided an update on insects and diseases in Colorado forests. He discussed mountain pine beetle, sudden aspen decline, and spruce bark beetle. He also discussed the values and uses of high elevation forests.
Mr. Janke continued his presentation and discussed Colorado watersheds and water infrastructure issues related to state forests. In response to a question from the committee, he explained the impact of the pine beetle on the ski tourism industry and attempts to control the spread of the beetle. He continued his presentation and discussed some of the key threats to high elevation forests including the impacts of insects and high elevation fires.
Mr. Janke discussed state forestry legislation in 2008 and provided an update on HB 08-1130 and SB 08-71. As a result of this legislation, he stated that 12 projects have been completed across the state. He also explained that the State Forest Service treats 20,000 acres of forests annually. Mr. Janke also discussed the need to increase the market for material produced through those treatments.
Nancy Fishering, Colorado Timber Industry Association (CTIA), discussed lumber markets, mill closures, and expectations about the profitability of the industry in the future. She continued by describing efforts the industry took in 2008 to maintain forest products. She described efforts that have been taken to remove standing dead trees from forests and explained how community concerns are considered in prioritizing acres for treatment.
Ms. Fishering continued to discuss CTIA's plans for 2009. She discussed the forestry-related bills introduced this session and the funding and resources needed to prevent insect disease and standing dead tree removal. She also discussed green forest management. The committee discussed federal money received to fund forest management projects.
The committee discussed sending a letter to the Colorado Congressional delegation regarding federal funding for forest management. Senator Schwartz described a letter that the Select Committee on Jobs and Economic Growth sent to Colorado congressional delegation.
Ms. Fishering described how fire suppression projects take a large amount of the available federal money and how other states are ahead of Colorado in receiving federal money for forest management. She also discussed some of the issues that prevent timber management including roadless areas and lynx habitat conservation.
The committee discussed forest succession after pine beetle destruction.
The committee discussed the types of management activities permitted in roadless areas.
Rick Cables, U.S. Forest Service, introduced the forest supervisors in Colorado. He distributed a packet of information (Attachment C) that lists all of the national forests in Colorado. He explained that there is no mechanical management of trees in wilderness areas and that there is very little management in roadless areas. He showed the committee a map of the national forests above 9,000 feet and discussed threats to these forests including wildfire and falling trees. He explained how these threats can affect the state's infrastructure, including transmission lines, roads, trails, and campgrounds. Mr. Cables also discussed the importance of the forest products industry in offsetting the costs of forest management work. He referenced the other states and counties in Colorado that depend on water from Colorado's national forests.
Mr. Cables continued his presentation and discussed issues surrounding climate change and water. He explained the Forest Service funding that has been provided to Colorado, including the 2009 emergency supplemental funds and economic stimulus money.
Senator Isgar requested that a letter be drafted from the joint committees regarding federal stimulus money to be sent to the state's congressional delegation.
The committee discussed what could be done to advocate for federal resources for the state. Mr. Cables suggested that it is helpful to demonstrate a willingness to spend state dollars and to elevate forestry issues with the new congressional representatives.
Rebecca Swanson, Governor's Office and the Forest Health Advisory Council, described work that the Governor's Office has done on forest issues. She explained that the council is focusing on collaboration with all stakeholders, are conducting a statewide assessment of forest management needs, and developing strategies and priorities at the state level that fit within budget constraints. She also described several letters that the Governor had sent to the state's congressional delegation on a variety of forest issues.
The committee discussed whether there are other ongoing efforts to bring together congressional delegations from states that rely on the Colorado River to focus attention on the importance that Colorado forests play in water resources. Senator Schwartz pointed out that the letter from the Select Committee on Job Creation and Economic Growth was only signed by Democrats. She emphasized the need for bipartisan cooperation on the issue.
Representative Looper asked a question about carbon sequestration programs and whether Mr. Cables is aware of the program established in Wyoming. Mr. Cables responded that the Secretary of Agriculture just established a new office of ecosystem services which will focus on some of the services that forests provide but are not easily captured by the markets, including carbon sequestration. Ms. Swanson added that the Governor put out a climate action plan that includes an agricultural offsets program and a forest health advisory council.
The committee adjourned.