Tipton’s beetle-kill bill clears House committee

A measure that would give governors greater authority to deal with beetle-infested forests passed the House Resources Committee on Wednesday.

The Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act, introduced as HR 8181 by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., was passed by the committee as part of a larger bill, HR 1526.

Tipton, whose district includes most of the Western Slope, pitched the measure as a way of reviving federal payments to rural schools. Those payments have lagged as the logging industry, and royalty payments from timber contracts, have fallen.

A program under which rural schools were to receive money from the federal treasury failed to live up to expectations, Tipton said during a hearing on Wednesday.

The Secure Rural Schools program, however, “has been kept on life support past its intended expiration date” and is now “unreliable and costly to taxpayers.”

His measure would restore sustainable timber harvesting “and reinvigorate royalty payments for rural education,” Tipton said.

Additional forest management is needed, Tipton said, noting that wildfire burned 9.3 million acres of forests in 2012, while the U.S. Forest Service harvested about 200,000 acres of timber.

In the meantime, Tipton said, the Forest Service spent $296 million on hazardous fuels treatment nationwide in 2012 and $1.77 billion on wildfire suppression.

The measure now will go to a vote before the full House.


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