Legislator: Sick trees mean business

MONTROSE — The new representative for House District 58 said he will begin drafting a bill this week to address the devastation wrought by the bark-beetle infestation in Colorado forests. He intends for it to jump-start the region’s timber industry and create healthier forests in the process.

Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, D-Blackhawk, met Friday with nearly 60 people, including state and federal forest officials, lumber mill and logging company owners and environmentalists, all sharing a desire to reshape policy and solidify new lumber contracts for companies to begin massive harvests of dead trees.

Coram and Nicholson said wildfires, damage to infrastructure and pollution to water resources pose great threats to the state’s forests and people who live near them.

“We have a problem, and we need to create more healthier forests, and, of course, a solution to that is harvesting the trees, utilizing the Montrose (saw) mill and developing more biofuels,” Coram said.

Coram said emerging biofuel companies are ready to begin hiring workers and potentially boost the state’s economy. He is confident Colorado can sustain the development of new biofuel endeavors and said the state could become a leader in the area in years to come.

“A power plant in Colorado Springs is looking to use biofuels,” Coram said. “Tri-State is looking at a possible Nucla generation plant operated on biofuels. There are new schools being designed so their boilers are operated on biofuels to provide heat. So, yes, there are many other possibilities.”


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