During my first term, I focused on advancing the issues that most directly impact Coloradans. Many of the most pressing items we worked on involved our state’s extensive open spaces and natural resources, including improving the conditions of our forests to prevent catastrophic wildfires.
Following an extensive fact-finding process to determine the most effective path to restore forest health, I introduced the Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act. In just a short amount of time following introduction last year, we were able to build a strong coalition of support that included the endorsements of 10 Colorado counties, and advanced it through the House Natural Resources Committee.
My first legislative priority for this Congress will be to reintroduce this comprehensive forest legislation to take immediate action to mitigate the conditions in Colorado forests that have fueled devastating fires like those in Waldo Canyon and High Park, as well as dozens more throughout our state this past year.
With millions of acres of beetle-killed timber, prolonged drought, unnaturally dense undergrowth in many areas, and warm temperatures combining to create prime conditions for fire, it’s undeniable that Colorado’s forests need immediate attention. We need to put a plan into place, and act on it as quickly as possible.
When developing a plan to improve conditions throughout the Western United States’ vast expanses of forest, it makes sense to include the input of those who live in the region and have a boots-on-the-ground view of the urgent challenges facing forest management. To that end, I propose a comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck approach to restoring forest health.
The Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act would give states, as well as affected counties and tribes, the authority to designate high-risk areas on national forest and Bureau of Land Management lands, as well as the authority to provide for the development of proposed emergency hazardous fuels reduction projects for those high-risk areas. With increased local control, states can better protect their communities, species habitats, water supplies and natural areas with preventative action to control the conditions behind devastating wildfires.
Additionally, this legislation would prevent delays of projects designed to increase safety and preserve natural habitats by reducing frivolous litigation. It achieves this by working within the guidelines of existing law to apply the expedited procedures and authorities under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 in an expanded range of areas.
By applying these authorities and procedures, the bill would accelerate hazardous fuels reduction projects carried out in response to conditions that pose an immediate threat to schools, recreation areas, utility or telephone infrastructure, campgrounds, heritage sites and other critical infrastructure.
Finally, this bill would permanently authorize Good Neighbor Authority, the authority of the secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to enter into cooperative agreements with state foresters to provide forest, rangeland and watershed protection services on applicable federal lands. This cooperative management style has proven to be extremely successful and is now praised as a common sense solution by both sides of the aisle.
Given the severity of the wildfires across Colorado last summer and the continued hazardous conditions for 2013, it is critical that we move this bill through the House and send it to the Senate as quickly as possible so that we can begin to address the problem. I am working with my colleagues on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Agriculture Committee to bring this bill to the House floor, and I anticipate committee activity on it in the coming months.
We cannot wait for another summer of destruction to pass before taking action to improve forest conditions. It’s our responsibility to act now to proactively manage our forests, prevent future destruction and loss of life from wildfire, and foster a healthy, natural environment.
In Case You Missed It
Tipton Statement on President’s gun speech: “I share the President’s desire to keep our children safe and prevent horrific acts of violence like those that occurred at Sandy Hook and in Aurora. I believe that steps can be taken to improve public safety without infringing on Americans’ Constitutional rights guaranteed under the 2nd Amendment. The important issue of protecting our children and improving public safety should not be dealt with rashly. While I intend to review the President’s proposals, I am concerned that the slew of executive orders runs the risk of infringing on Americans’ 2nd Amendment rights and over-stepping the bounds of the President’s Constitutional authority.” Read more.
Tipton Reads U.S. Constitution on House floor: Members of Congress take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from enemies both foreign and domestic. Reading the Constitution in the House of Representatives is an appropriate way to begin this Congress, and speaks to this body’s commitment to upholding the laws of our nation. It guides all I do in Congress. The timeless and sacred truths in our Constitution are the foundation on which the whole of our nation firmly stands, and I was proud to participate in its reading on the floor of the House today. Read more.
Eagle Valley Enterprise: Eagle Valley High School group is in Washington, D.C. this week to witness second Obama inauguration: For the third time in eight years, Eagle Valley High School teacher Ashley Weaver and a group of students will witness history in the making. The EVHS delegation will attend the inauguration ceremony in a standing-room-only section at the Capitol, compliments of Rep. Scott Tipton who provided the event tickets. Read more.
CBS Channel 5 Grand Junction: Katie’s Law goes federal: Thanks in part to Congressman Scott Tipton, R-CO, the president has signed a bill into law that would enhance the DNA collection process among those arrested nationwide. Katie’s Law originates from a 2003 New Mexico murder case. DNA evidence helped find Katie Sepich’s killer, which prompted advocates to push for legislation that would expand the use of DNA in investigations. Watch here.