Udall presses for eight measures affecting public lands in Colorado

Funding for efforts to save four endangered fish in the Colorado River Basin, as well as a measure described as needed to help the struggling lumber mill in Montrose, are stuck in the Senate as the Congress speeds to a close.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said Monday he’s willing to work through the new year and up to the beginning of the next Congress on eight measures affecting public lands in Colorado.

A measure introduced by U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., to authorize the Upper Colorado River Basin Endangered Species Recovery Program from 2012 to 2023 has broad support in the Senate, as do several other Colorado-related measures, Udall said.

Time, however, is running out to get legislation through, he said, and he’s looking to put the measures together or find some other way to get them through the legislative process.

It’s unacceptable “just to set this work aside and let it all go for naught” at the end of the session, he said.

He is willing to oppose adjournment if necessary to get the measures through, Udall said.

Each of the projects has been vetted before congressional committees and is ready to move forward, Udall said.

Also among them are measures to promote year-round recreation at ski resorts, clarify which federal agency is responsible for a Leadville mine, establish a national historic district at Camp Hale, expand wilderness in the San Juan mountains and establish a national monument at Chimney Rock in southwest Colorado.

Senate action completing work on the endangered-fish and bark-beetle measures will assure businesses and program participants of the federal government’s commitment, Udall said.

“These bills individually and collectively create jobs and protect public safety,” Udall said.

More than 1,800 water projects in the basin depend on the recovery program to continue operations, Udall said.

Failure to reauthorize the program would create uncertainty and force the next Congress to take it up anew, Udall said.

Udall’s National Forest Insect Disease Emergency Act, SB 2798, would aid the U.S. Forest Service in dealing with the deaths of millions of lodgepole pine trees in central Colorado, as well attacks by beetles on spruce forests in western Colorado.

The measure would offer predictability to potential buyers of Intermountain Resources in Montrose, allowing them to build it into their five- or 10-year plans and seek loans accordingly, Udall said.

The measure is needed, as well, for forest health, he said.

Forest Service officials have said hundreds of thousands of beetle-stricken trees are falling in Colorado’s forest daily, posing threats to humans and increasing the threat of fire.

Foresters have been stymied by the lack of lumber mills to which they can ship beetle-killed timber.


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