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I_WMRC_2017A 09/08/2017 09:34:10 AM Committee Summary

Final

STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING



WILDFIRE MATTERS REVIEW COMMITTEE

Date: 09/08/2017
ATTENDANCE
Time: 09:34 AM to 03:12 PM
Carver
X
Cooke
E
Place: SCR 357
Coram
E
Exum
X
This Meeting was called to order by
Hamner
X
Representative Becker K.
Jones
E
Merrifield
E
This Report was prepared by
Thurlow
X
Damion Pechota
Baumgardner
X
Becker K.
X
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call, R = Remote Participation
Bills Addressed: Action Taken:
Benefits from and Barriers to Expand Applications

U.S. Forest Service Funding and Permit Issues

Air Quality

Division of Insurance

Peak 2 Fire in Summit County

Insurance

Recent Legislation

Request for Legislation

Utah Wildfire Program
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

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Recommendation(s) Approved

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only





09:34 AM -- Benefits from and Barriers to Expand Applications



Rob Addington, representing The Nature Conservancy, discussed forest health and the increase of severe wildfires. He discussed the importance of forest management and fuel reduction, including mechanical treatments. Mechanical treatments include the physical removal of forest products and the use of prescribed fire to reduce fuel loads. Mr. Addington spoke on the use of prescribed fires as a more cost effective approach.



Mr. Addington answered a question regarding air quality control permits as a barrier to prescribed fires. He also answered questions regarding air quality issues related to smoke produced during a wildfire.



09:44 AM



Mr. Addington continued to answer questions from the committee. He also discussed the the goals of mitigation and forest treatment to reduce the risks of wildfire statewide. Mr. Addington said that 1.5 million acres have been identified as high risk for wildfires. Current forest mitigation work in Colorado is 330,000 acres.













09:52 AM --
Jeffrey Cannon, the Forest Restoration Institute, spoke on the restoration goals and the partnerships between state and local agencies for mitigation treatment programs. He also discussed erosion, water, and ground contamination. Mr. Cannon presented a modeling program for strategic plans in forest treatment.



10:03 AM --
Carol Ekarius, representing the Coalition of the Upper South Platte, presented on past wildfire and the flood events. She discussed pre-fire and post-fire mitigation work to maintain forest and water health. Ms. Ekarius spoke on the challenges regarding air quality control. She discussed the partnership with private land owners.



Ms. Ekarius answered questions from the committee regarding a statewide strategic plan.



Mr. Addington discussed the tools provided by the Colorado State Forest Service to establish goals and priorities for mitigation work. He also spoke on partnerships with local authorities.



Ms. Ekarius spoke on the need to change mitigation efforts by changing wildfire response. She also discussed the funding for mitigation efforts.



10:16 AM -- U.S. Forest Service Funding and Permit Issues



Curtis Heaton, Director of Safety, Fire, and Aviation Management, U.S. Forest Service, spoke on forest mitigation and response programs. He discussed the mitigation projects on U.S. forest land, including mechanical treatment and prescribed fires. Mr. Heaton discussed the need to expand prescribed fire programs and that a million acres have been identified for mitigation.



10:25 AM



Mr. Heaton spoke on the air quality control permitting process.



Mr. Heaton answered questions from the committee regarding the air quality control permits. He also answered questions regarding access to forests. He discussed the importance of streamlining the process of government contracts for private businesses.



10:35 AM



Mr. Heaton answered questions from the committee regarding the fire risks of standing dead trees. He spoke on the challenges for accessing and mitigating some forests.



10:41 AM -- Air Quality



Coleen Campbell, representing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), provided background information on the regulation regarding air quality control. She spoke on the need to address the public health impacts associated with prescribed fires. She described the permitting process depending on the propertty, fuel type, or fuel load.



10:57 AM



Ms. Campbell said that private property owner permit applications have increased because of beetle kill trees. She discussed the criteria for permits. Ms. Campbell provided an example of a nonstandard permit in 2016 and the process for monitoring the prescribed burn. She also discussed ozone action days and other restriction issues.











11:10 AM --
Scott Landis, CDPHE, discussed changes to smoke sensitive designations and the impacts its had to the permitting process. Mr. Landis spoke on the recent developments in the smoke managament program, including collaborations and the placement of a meteorologist at the burn sites.



11:21 AM -- Division of Insurance



Marguerite Salazar, Executive Director, Department of Regulatory Agencies, spoke on the insurance issues in the wildland-urban interface. She spoke on the resources available to homeowners. She discussed the insurance industry issues regarding the wildland-urban interface.



Representative Hamner discussed her experience working with the Division of Insurance.



11:30 AM --
Peg Brown, Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Insurance, spoke on the developments made in the wildland-urban interface.



Representative Becker discussed the efforts made in Boulder County and the accessibility to insurance.



Executive Director Salazar discussed Boulder County's mitigation work and the potential outreach to other communities.



11:37 AM -- Peak 2 Fire in Summit County



Representative Hamner provided an overview of the Peak 2 Fire in Summit County.



11:38 AM --
Dan Gibbs, Summit County Commissioner, spoke on the partnerships in Summit County for fire mitigation and protection efforts. He provided a summary of the Peak 2 Fire, which started on U.S. Forest Service land on July 5, 2017 (Attachment A). Commissioner Gibbs said that the fire spread quickly due to wind changes. He provided an overview of the response and suppression effort. Commissioner Gibbs talked about a local tax to help with mitigation efforts.



170908 AttachA.pdf170908 AttachA.pdf



11:47 AM --
Sarah Thorsteinson, Summit Association of Realtors, provided a background of the association and the mitigation education efforts they are involved in. Ms. Thorsteinson spoke on a grant program to help homeowners establish defensible spaces on their property. She provided copies of a mail document (Attachment B) and an informational handout (Attachment C). She discussed the partnerships with other realtor associations.



170908 AttachB.pdf170908 AttachB.pdf170908 AttachC.pdf170908 AttachC.pdf



Ms. Thorsteinson answered questions from the committee about what the state can do to help realtor association programs.



11:57 AM



The committee recessed.









01:21 PM



The committee returned from recess.




01:21 PM -- Insurance



Kelly Campbell, Property and Casualty Insurance Association of America, discussed the risks to property owners and the response from the insurance industry. She discussed the insured losses in past wildfires.



Carole Walker, Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, discussed how wildfire is a manageable risk. She discussed the insurance requirements for homeowners living in the wildland-urban interface. Ms. Walker talked about testing done by the insurance industry to determine best practices.



01:32 PM




Ms. Campbell answered a question from the committee regarding significant premium increases in the wildland-urban interface. Ms. Walker discussed the rating of individual risk for homeowners.



The committee discussed current issues related to homeowner insurance.



Ms. Walker discussed their partnership with realtor associations.



01:51 PM -- Recent Legislation



Anna Gerstle, Legislative Council Staff, provided an overview of recent legislation passed since the committee was created in 2013. She distributed a handout to the committee on recent legislation (Attachment D).



170908 AttachD.pdf170908 AttachD.pdf



01:56 PM -- Request for Legislation



The committee discussed potential legislation.



The committee members requested a draft bill to continue the Wildfire Matters Review Committee. The draft bill (Bill #1) was requested by Senator Jones and Representative Thurlow. The committee members discussed the original charge of the committee. The committee agreed to continue the existing language in statute.



Representative Hamner discussed statute clean up ideas. Specifically she discussed the fine for out of control campfires and the signs that must be posted for fire bans. Representative Becker discussed the issue of illegal campfires. The draft bill (Bill #2) was requested by Representative Hamner.



Representative Carver discussed the good neighbor authority.







02:12 PM -- Utah Wildfire Program



Brian Cottam, Director, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands, called into the committee. He provided a presentation (Attachment E) and information on Utah's wildfire programs (Attachment F). Mr. Cottam discussed the changes made in Utah to address the wildfire needs. Specifically, he talked about the costs related to wildfire, including suppression and mitigation costs.



170908 AttachE.pdf170908 AttachE.pdf170908 AttachF.pdf170908 AttachF.pdf



02:28 PM



Mr. Cottam provided an overview of the Catastrophic Wildfire Program (Catfire). Mr. Cottam discussed the risk assessment initiatives.



02:41 PM



Mr. Cottam provided an overview of legislative funding for wildfire issues. He discussed the wildfire risk assessment portal Mr. Cottam provided an overview of the legislation passed in Utah on wildfire issues since 2014.



02:57 PM



Mr. Cottam provided an overview of the agreement between the state and local governments regarding wildland fire policy.



Mr. Cottam answered questions from the committee regarding the funding from CatFire compared to other state funding. He also answered a question regarding the County Fire Warden position.



03:05 PM



Mr. Cottam answered a question regarding the mutual aide and cooperative agreements.



03:08 PM --
Mike Morgan, Director, Division of Fire Prevention and Control, came to the table to answer some questions.



03:12 PM



The committee adjourned.


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