DENVER, COLORADO – In a significant move to combat the increasing threat of wildfires in Colorado, the House Agriculture, Water & Natural Resources Committee has passed a bill aimed at expanding wildfire prevention efforts through enhanced community education. The bill, HB24-1024, sponsored by Representatives Tammy Story and Elizabeth Velasco, received a 10-2 vote in its favor.
The importance of this legislation is underscored by recent studies, including a CU Boulder research finding a dramatic increase in wildfire frequency across the United States, particularly in Colorado. The 20 largest wildfires in Colorado’s history have all occurred within the last 22 years, with a notable intensification in fire frequency and size. This trend aligns with the 2023 Colorado Climate Assessment Report, which attributes the rise in wildfires to warming temperatures and predicts future increases, especially in forest ecosystems.
HB24-1024 focuses on extending the Colorado State Forest Service’s ongoing efforts to educate communities about effective wildfire mitigation strategies. Representative Tammy Story, D-Conifer, emphasized the bill’s goal to inform Coloradans, irrespective of their location, about protecting their homes and businesses through measures like reducing vegetation near buildings.
Representative Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs, highlighted the bill’s role in enhancing residential mitigation efforts, particularly in Colorado’s rural and mountain areas which are highly susceptible to wildfire damage. The bill mandates the continuation of the “Live Wildfire Ready” campaign by the Colorado State Forest Service through 2027, alongside other outreach initiatives to increase awareness of wildfire risks in the wildland-urban interface.
Developed by the Wildfire Matters Review Committee, HB24-1024 not only aims to improve wildfire mitigation but also seeks to bolster the forestry workforce and enhance overall wildfire awareness. The bill’s passage through the committee, despite opposition from two Republican members, marks a significant step in Colorado’s legislative process. It now moves to the full House for further consideration, amendments, and a potential vote before the end of the 2024 legislative session on May 8th.
The current “Live Wildfire Ready” campaign, funded by the state and supported by various forest and fire control agencies, offers comprehensive resources for Coloradans, including toolkits, grant programs, a wildfire risk map, and more, accessible at csfs.colostate.edu/live-wildfire-ready.
This legislative effort comes at a critical time, as Colorado grapples with the escalating challenges of wildfires, and represents a proactive approach to not only managing but also preventing these natural disasters through informed community participation.