Location: SCR 352
Update from Forest Health Advisory Council
WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
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10:08 AM -- Update from Forest Health Advisory Council
Travis Smith, Forest Health Advisory Council (FHAC), and Mike Lester, State Forester, Colorado State Forest Service, introduced themselves to the committee and distributed the FHAC's recommendations to the Colorado Water Plan (Attachment B). Mr. Lester discussed major challenges in forest health, such as prescribed fire having inherent risks and a lack of financial resources. Mr. Smith discussed the FHAC's support for governmental immunity for state and local agencies to facilitate the use of prescribed fires to conduct prescribed burns on state and private lands. Mr. Smith explained that the increase of the use of prescribed fire is a recommendation to the water plan in order to address the health of the forests and watersheds.
Mr. Lester discussed the lack of financial resources available to treat Colorado's forests at a pace and scale that will effectively manage and mitigate the negative effects of high-severity wildfire. Mr. Smith discussed the importance of incentivizing and funding forest management activities at the local watershed level. He also recommended that there be an expansion of funds in the 2018 CWCB Projects Bill for forest health projects and creating a stand-alone category for forest health projects in CWCB project grants. Mr. Lester discussed the challenges found in the timber industry that affect forest health. He discussed the lack of a consistent approach to fuel mitigation and forest harvesting. Mr. Smith discussed ways to expand the timber industry to address these challenges.
Mr. Lester discussed the challenges the forest industry faces with respect to water quality and proactive forest management. Mr. Smith and Mr. Lester responded to questions from the committee.
Mr. Lester summarized the opportunities that the FHAC has found in improving forest and watershed health. Mr. Smith and Mr. Lester answered further questions from the committee and committee discussion ensued.