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I_WMRC_2023A 08/29/2023 09:19:51 AM Committee Summary

PUBLIC
STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
INTERIM COMMITTEE  WILDFIRE MATTERS REVIEW COMMITTEE
Date 08/29/2023
Attendance
Dickson *
Ginal E
Jaquez Lewis X
Simpson X
Snyder X
Weinberg X
Will X
Winter T. X
Cutter X
Velasco X
Time 09:19:51 AM to 03:29:40 PM
Place LSB A
This Meeting was called to order by Velasco
This Report was prepared by Adam Alemzada
Hearing Items Action Taken
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Committee Discussion Only
Colorado Rural Electric Association Committee Discussion Only
Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities Committee Discussion Only
Department of Public Health and Environment & Department of Public Safety Committee Discussion Only
Lunch Committee Discussion Only
Colorado Forest Health Council Committee Discussion Only
Committee Discussion on Next Steps Committee Discussion Only
Center for Independence Committee Discussion Only
Center for People with Disabilities Committee Discussion Only
Special District Association Committee Discussion Only
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Committee Discussion Only
Public Testimony Committee Discussion Only

09:19:52 AM
Representative Velasco,
Chair, gave opening remarks to the Wildfire Matters Review committee.



University Corporation for Atmospheric Research - Committee Discussion Only


09:20:26 AM  
Jason Knieval, Deputy
Director for Science, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR),
gave a presentation on UCAR, the Colorado Fire Prediction System (CO-FPS),
the value of the CO-FPS as a harm reduction tool, and how CO-FPS could
be used in the future.



Their presentation can be found here:
https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/ucar_presentation.pdf
09:30:08 AM  
Mr. Knieval responded to questions from the committee on how CO-FPS can help find the ignition point of a fire.
09:35:16 AM  
Mr. Knieval responded to questions from the committee on how CO-FPS could be accessed by different agencies and organizations during a fire, what level of involvement the federal government has with CO-FPS, and the effectiveness of CO-FPS with prescribed fires.
09:39:09 AM  
Chief Mike Morgan,
Director of the Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC), Department
of Public Safety, introduced himself and discussed some of the issues he's
experienced with CO-FPS and what can be done to help address them.



Colorado Rural Electric Association - Committee Discussion Only


09:44:24 AM  
Tim Coleman, Director of Government Relations, Colorado Rural Electric Association (CREA), introduced CREA and gave an overview of what their organization does. He discussed how electric cooperatives are able to help wildfire mitigation efforts, as well as some of the barriers that electric cooperatives face in their mitigation efforts.
09:48:25 AM  
Virginia Harmon,
General Manager, Mountain Parks Electric, introduced her electric cooperative
and the areas it covers. She discussed the problems wildfires have caused
in her region and the methods Mountain Park Electric is employing to mitigate
wildfire risks. She explained that electric companies need permission to
manage vegetation in their area to better mitigate wildfires.

09:54:21 AM  
Ms. Harmon responded
to questions from the committee on Mountain Park Electric's efforts to
underground power lines and the challanges that property rights-of-ways
pose to managing vegetation.
10:02:00 AM  
Director Coleman
discussed some of the issues with burying power lines and getting permission
to manage vegetation on federal land.
10:04:47 AM  
John Hansen, Transmission
Maintenance Technical Support Manager, Tri-State Generation and Transmission,
gave a presentation on his organization and the importance of vegetation
in wildfire mitigation practices. He discussed federal regulations on transmission
lines that are aimed at wildfire prevention and how Tri-State Generation
and Transmission is expanding their wildfire mitigation efforts.



Their presentation can be found here:
https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/tri-state_presentation_for_co_wildfire_matters_review_committee.pdf
10:15:38 AM  
Mr. Hansen and Director
Coleman responded to questions from the committee on the wildfire risks
for mobile home parks and what is being done in other states to prevent
wildfires.
10:20:58 AM  
Holly Woodings, Mountain
Area Manager, United Power, gave a presentation on the fire mitigation
efforts that United Power is utilizing in mountain areas, including using
covered conductors and current limiting fuses.



Their presentation can be found here:
https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/united_power_august_29.pdf
10:31:45 AM  
Ms. Woodings responded to questions from the committee on the use of mountain cameras to monitor wildfire prone areas and areas where new cameras are being placed.



Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities - Committee Discussion Only


10:37:26 AM  
Daniel Hodges, Executive
Director, Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities (CAMU) and Jeremy
Taylor, Colorado Springs Utilities, gave a presentation on the role of
utility companies in wildfire mitigation. Mr. Taylor discussed how partnerships
are required to manage the large amounts of wildfire prone lands and how
wildfire mitigation efforts are funded.



Their presentation can be found here:
https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/colorado_springs_utilities_presentation.pdf
11:00:52 AM  
Mr. Taylor and Mr. Hodges responded to questions from the committee on the difficulties that come with collaborative efforts and the recent changes with water management.



Department of Public Health and Environment & Department of Public Safety - Committee Discussion Only


11:07:38 AM  
Chief Mike Morgan,
Director of the Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC), Department
of Public Safety, discussed what the DFPC is trying to accomplish and their
wildfire mitigation priorities, including managing risk and the wildland-urban
interface (WUI). He explained the need for collaboration between safety
and public health officials when coming up with wildfire management plans.

11:18:53 AM  
Chief Morgan responded to questions from the committee on the development of prescribed burn strategies.
11:22:37 AM  
Scott Brookman, Senior
Director of Public Health Readiness and Response, Colorado Department of
Public Heath (CDPHE), gave a presentation on how CDPHE responds to wildfires
and the smoke produced by them. He introduced his co-presenters, Kristy
Richardson and Kristen Good.



Their presentation can be found here:
https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/cdphe_wildfire_presentation.pdf
11:26:10 AM  
Kristy Richardson,
State Toxicologist, CDPHE, discussed the health concerns that arise from
the air pollution caused by wildfire smoke and the water contamination
risks after a wildfire. She also discussed how certain groups are more
vulnerable to the health impacts of wildfires.
11:36:55 AM  
Ms. Richardson responded
to questions from the committee on how to identify the source of pollutants
in the air and on what measurements were taken during the Marshall Fire.
11:55:05 AM  
Dr. Kristen Good, Health Equity Branch Deputy Chief, CDPHE, discussed the way that outdoor air pollution from wildfires can affect indoor air quality if a building does not have proper ventilation. She discussed methods to improve indoor air quality and the lack of a statewide clean air shelter program.
12:07:46 PM  
Director Brookman discussed communities that are disproportionately by wildfires and what CDPHE does to support them.
12:08:41 PM  
Dr. Good responded to questions from the committee on the funding and progress of the indoor air quality assessment pilot program.



Lunch - Committee Discussion Only


12:11:50 PM  
The committee broke for lunch.
01:06:51 PM  
The committee reconvened.



Colorado Forest Health Council - Committee Discussion Only


01:07:09 PM  
Council Chair Dan
Gibbs, Executive Director, Department of Natural Resources, introduced
himself and gave a presentation on the Colorado Forest Health Council (CFHC)
and their structure, duties, and goals. He discussed the CFHC's administrative
recommendations for wildfire mitigation.



Their presentation can be found here:
https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/2023_fhc_wildfire_matters_review_committee_recommendations.pdf
01:13:14 PM  
Commissioner Jody Shadduck-McNally, Larimer County, discussed the CFHC's legislative recommendations for wildfire mitigation, which include appropriating money to the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) for new programs and piloting mitigation days to support private landowner slash removal.
01:21:16 PM  
Council Chair Gibbs responded to questions from the committee on the CFHC's administrative recommendations.
01:22:57 PM  
Matt McCombs, Colorado
State Forester, responded to questions from the committee on the progress
and funding of existing wildfire programs and on the threat climate change
poses in the west.



Committee Discussion on Next Steps - Committee Discussion Only


01:39:45 PM  
Samantha Falco, Legislative
Council Staff, gave an overview of the committee's upcoming field trip.
01:43:05 PM  
The committee discussed
the agenda for the field trip and upcoming committee meetings.



Center for Independence - Committee Discussion Only


01:49:04 PM  
Billy Allen, Director
of Programs & Operations and Disaster Preparedness Coordinator, Center
for Independence (CFI), discussed disability statistics in Colorado and
the current disaster preparedness policies the CFI has developed for the
disabled community. He distributed handouts to the committee (Attachment
A).
02:02:15 PM  
Director Allen responded
to questions from the committee on alternatives to reverse-911 calls for
the disability community, such as a website where a person can input their
location to receive vital information during an emergency.



Center for People with Disabilities - Committee Discussion Only


02:10:43 PM  
Craig Towler, Community
Organizer, Center for People with Disabilities (CPWD), gave a presentation
on the CPWD's core services and programs. He also discussed the barriers
and inequities people with disabilities face at times of emergencies, including
the need for interpreters and easy-to-read text.



Their presentation can be found here:
https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/cpwd_wildfire_matters_review_committee_meeting_august_29th_-_final.pdf
02:15:54 PM  
Mr. Towler explained
that emergency and health information is often distributed via email and
text, which is an issue in the disability community due to a lack of tech
literacy.
02:20:51 PM  
Mr. Towler discussed
the importance of easy-to-read emergency materials, which would include
clear visuals and plain language.
02:26:32 PM  
Mr. Towler discussed
the need for community networks to help members of the disability during
evacuations, such as providing them transportation if they do not drive.
He explained how the CPWD uses community conversation cards to facilitate
the formation of community networks.
02:31:24 PM  
Mr. Towler responded to questions from the committee on the first steps to making the evacuation process more accessible for the disability community.



Special District Association - Committee Discussion Only


02:37:00 PM  
Michael Valdez, Director
of Policy, Special District Association (SDA), introduced himself and Fire
Chief Don Lombardi.
02:40:16 PM  
Don Lombardi, Fire
Chief, West Metro Fire & Rescue, discussed the Colorado Firefighters
Heart, Cancer, and Behavioral Health Benefits Trust's (Trust) origins and
purpose. The Trust helps cover the out-of-pocket expenses for a firefighter's
cardiac and cancer health treatments. He explained that the program has
been very effective in both treating and preventing health issues for firefighters.

02:46:46 PM  
Chief Lombardi discussed the need to ensure that all firefighters are eligible for the benefits of the Trust.
02:49:50 PM  
Mr. Valdez discussed the funding structure for the Trust.
02:50:47 PM  
Dianne Criswell, SDA, discussed the benefits of a trust model in lieu of a workers compensation model for the firefighter cardiac and cancer programs.
02:57:08 PM  
Ms. Criswell responded to questions from the committee on the Trust's funding mechanisms.



02:59:41 PM
The committee broke for a break.



03:12:13 PM
The committee reconvened.



American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - Committee Discussion Only


03:12:58 PM  
Ali Mickelson, State
Legislative Director of Mountain West Region, American Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) discussed the ASPCA's emergency
response programs. These programs include deploying people into areas where
an emergency has occurred to rescue pets. She also discussed the issue
of emergency shelters not allowing pets. She distributed a handout to the
committee (Attachment B).
03:15:01 PM  
Ms. Mickelson discussed
steps that other states are taking to accommodate people with pets during
emergency situations and the need for Colorado to follow suit.
03:17:57 PM  
Ms. Mickelson responded
to questions from the committee on emergency clauses for hotels and short-term
rentals that would require them to accept people with pets during emergencies
and the current practices for sheltering livestock.



Public Testimony - Committee Discussion Only


03:22:45 PM  
Nathan Whittington, representing himself, testified and discussed his role as an emergency manager.
03:24:51 PM  
Dana Duggan, representing Westside Watch, testified on the need to mandate evacuation modeling.
03:27:39 PM  
Omar Wyman, representing himself, testified on the lack of evacuation models in Colorado Springs and the need for a statewide evacuation model.



03:29:20 PM
The committee adjourned.


03:29:40 PM   The committee adjourned.






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