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I_WMRC_2017A 08/28/2017 09:07:50 AM Committee Summary

Final

STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING



WILDFIRE MATTERS REVIEW COMMITTEE

Date: 08/28/2017
ATTENDANCE
Time: 09:07 AM to 02:39 PM
Baumgardner
X
Carver
X
Place: SCR 357
Cooke
E
Coram
X
This Meeting was called to order by
Exum
X
Representative Becker K.
Hamner
E
Jones
*
This Report was prepared by
Merrifield
E
Damion Pechota
Thurlow
X
(None)
X
Becker K.
X
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call, R = Remote Participation
Bills Addressed: Action Taken:
Opening Remarks

Overview of State Mitigation Issues

Budget Overview and Fire Coordination

Division of Fire Prevention and Control
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only



09:08 AM -- Opening Remarks



The committee members provided opening remarks.



09:13 AM -- Overview of State Mitigation Issues



Cindy Domenico, Boulder Country Commissioner, spoke about developments in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) in Boulder County. She discussed the impact of wildfires in Boulder Country. Commissioner Domenico discussed the costs associated with suppression and recovery, including the Wildfire Partners Program to maintain defensible spaces for homeowners.



Commissioner Domenico answered questions regarding partnerships with federal agencies on mitigation efforts. She discussed the ongoing dialogue with the Colorado State Forest Service and the U.S. Forest Service.



09:27 AM --
Jim Webster, representing Boulder County, discussed the Wildfire Insurance Forest Health Task Force Report (Attachment A). He discussed the mitigation efforts in Boulder County and the reduced wildfire risks. He discussed the importance of tracking and measuring mitigation efforts and developing strategies. He discussed efforts in Boulder County to reduce risks, including three goals: resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities, and safe and effective wildfire response.



170828 AttachA.pdf170828 AttachA.pdf







09:39 AM



Mr. Webster discussed the 13,000 individuals that are part of the Wildfire Partners Program. He also discussed the current state partners, including state departments, offices, and agencies: the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Emergency Management, the Governor's Office of Resiliency and Recovery, the Department of Regulatory Agencies, the State Insurance Commissioner, the Department of Local Affairs, the Colorado State Forest Service, and the Division of Fire Prevention and Control in DPS. He discussed the challenges regarding private property and local control.



09:49 AM



Mr. Webster answered questions regarding mitigation efforts in other counties and the challenges preventing action.



Commissioner Domenico answered questions regarding the efforts of other counties.



Mr. Webster answered questions regarding financial assistance and cost sharing to homeowners. Currently, cost sharing provides up to $2,500 for each property.



Commissioner Domenico said that the Wildfire Partners Program is not currently available in Colorado Springs.



09:59 AM



Mr. Webster discussed the recovery process for homeowners after a wildfire.



Senator Jones discussed the Wildfire Insurance Forest Health Task Force Report and fire protection efforts. Mr. Webster answered questions regarding risks to firefighters and fire protection efforts.



10:03 AM --
Iain Hyde, Director of the Governor's Office of Resiliency and Recovery, spoke on statewide mitigation efforts and fire adapted communities. He provided an overview of the Governor's Office of Resiliency and Recovery. Mr. Hyde discussed the underlying issues in communities that can magnify the economic restraints.



10:13 AM



Mr. Hyde continued to discuss statewide mitigation efforts, including maintenance of forest health and water restoration programs. He also spoke on the state's work to partner with local agencies and private entities.



Mr. Hyde answered questions regarding building codes. He spoke on the codes and land use policies that communities can employ based on their priorities.







10:24 AM -- Budget Overview and Fire Coordination



Mike Lester, Director of the Colorado State Forest (CSFS), provided a packet of information (Attachment B). He discussed the current stewardship programs in Colorado's forests and partnerships with private land owners. Mr. Lester also discussed the state's role in the National Cohesive Strategy: resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities, and safe and effective fire response. He spoke on the reduction of fire intensity if mitigated areas. Mr. Lester provided an overview and discussed the success of the Wildfire Risk Reduction grants. He spoke about the CSFS's role in fire adapted communities and the Community Wildfire Protection Plans. Mr. Lester discussed models to identify areas of high risk.



170828 AttachB.pdf170828 AttachB.pdf



10:33 AM



Mr. Lester continued to discuss wildfire risks and statewide mitigation efforts. He said that over 30% of Colorado's forests are on private land, which accounts for 7 million acres of forest land. Mr. Lester provided an overview of the CFSF budget, including state and federal funding. He also provided an overview of CSFS's expenditures.



Mr. Lester spoke on Senate Bill 17-050,, which includes the reauthorization of the Healthy Forest Vibrant Communities Act. He spoke on the funding challenges for the CSFS.



10:41 AM



Mr. Lester answered questions from the committee regarding the continuation of the Wildfire Matters Review Committee. He also answered questions regarding the location of the CSFS in the Colorado State University (CSU) system. Mr. Lester discussed the funding for CSFS from CSU. He spoke on the funding from severance taxes, and said that the last time it was fully funded was 2014.



Senator Jones discussed the importance of CSU studies on forest and wildfire issues. Mr. Lester answered questions regarding the U.S. Forest Service budget and the issues of fire borrowing.



10:52 AM



Mr. Lester answered questions from the committee regarding CSFS and the insurance industry. He discussed mitigation programs in Flagstaff, Arizona. Mr. Lester spoke on the Wildfire Task Force Report.



Senator Jones discussed wildfire risks in Boulder, Colorado.



11:02 AM



The committee recessed.



12:58 PM



The committee came back to order.













12:58 PM -- Division of Fire Prevention and Control



Mike Morgan, Director of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC), provided a presentation on the DFPC and wildfires in Colorado (Attachment C). He discussed the qualifying emergency fire fund events in the past fifty years and the steady rise in the number of qualifying fires. In 2016, there were 5,572 fires in Colorado, including 4,753 that were attributed to human-caused fires and 819 lighting-caused. A total of 122,517 acres were burned in 2016.



170828 AttachC.pdf170828 AttachC.pdf



01:08 PM



Director Morgan discussed the costs of suppression, including state, federal, and local funding. He also spoke on the length of the fires, including the Beaver Creek fire that started on June 19, 2016 and was extinguished by snow fall on November 30, 2016. Director Morgan discussed the programs in the DFPC and the resources available.



01:18 PM



Director Morgan answered questions regarding the costs and acres burned in the Beaver Creek fire. He also answered questions regarding the impact of beetle kill trees on wildfire risks.



Director Morgan also answered questions regarding controlled burns in winter.



Senator Baumgardner discussed the role of fire mitigation and potential risks in rural areas.



01:28 PM



Director Lester was called back to the table. He answered questions from the committee regarding risk reduction in federal forests.



01:30 PM --
Chief Vaughn Jones discussed the fire management operations. He provided an overview of equipment, services, and operations for fire suppression.



01:40 PM



Chief Jones provided an overview of the prescribed fire program and planning.



01:50 PM



Chief Jones answered questions from the committee regarding the costs for loaning equipment to other states.



01:51 PM --
Melissa Lineberger, Director of the Center of Excellence, provided an overview of the Center of Excellence, including fire prediction, communication in areas with no cell service, unmanned aerial systems, and data collection projects.



Director Morgan said that DFPC is working to adapt to an expanded fire season and continue to improve coordination among state, local, and federal agencies.











02:10 PM -- Bob Lackner, Office of Legislative Legal Services, provided the committee with an overview of the bill request process.



02:15 PM -- Damion Pechota, Legislative Council Staff, provided overview of the Utah wildfire funding program (Attachment D) and a Colorado legislation overview memorandum (Attachment E).



170828 AttachD.pdf170828 AttachD.pdf170828 AttachE.pdf170828 AttachE.pdf



02:17 PM -- Tom Dermody, Joint Budget Committee, discussed last years JBC briefing document related to wildfire (Attachment F). He answered questions regarding why it is challenging to isolate mitigation costs.



170828 AttachF.pdf170828 AttachF.pdf



02:33 PM -- The committee members discussed and requested a preliminary fiscal analysis of continuing the committee.



02:39 PM



The committee adjourned.


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