Pine beetles burrow in to
One local elected official calls various
efforts 'a lot of political chest-beating'
Several pine-beetle plans are
being pushed by Colorado's elected offficials, though they are
not all working together.
Brad Odekirk/Summit Daily
November 7, 2005
SUMMIT COUNTY - Partisan politics, from
Washington, D.C. right down to the local level, may be hampering
efforts to address the beetle invasion that is ravaging lodgepole pine
forests across the West Slope of Colorado.
"Everybody's got their own little thing they're trying to push
through, to be the local hero. It looks like it's coming down to a lot
of political chest-beating," said County Commissioner Tom Long. "They
seem to think it's an opportunity for partisan political
On Wednesday, for example, Republican Sen. Wayne Allard met with U.S.
Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth to talk about pine beetles, then
pointed a finger at environmental groups and courts for delaying
forest health projects.
Allard said Bosworth blamed a California court
decision requiring more public review of certain Forest Service
projects for creating an impediment to dealing with pine beetles.
Allard also said he will try to help create more markets for the
Once mountain pine beetles have
invaded a tree, pitch tubes, the gooey disposal chutes left behind
by the bugs, are visible on the trunk, often accompanied by
sawdust on the ground.
Summit Daily/Reid Williams
Browse Vail Daily Photos
Allard called for more use of dead trees to create energy. Citing
"fuel-for-schools" programs in Idaho and Montana, he said the biomass
energy program should be expanded to all federal buildings.
At the same time, Democratic Reps. Mark Udall and John Salazar
released a draft version of a mountain pine beetle relief bill, while
Sen. Ken Salazar, also a Democrat, announced a bark beetle study
relief act that requires the Forest Service to report back to Congress
with an action plan.
"No wonder the Forest Service doesn't know which way to go," said
Long, a Republican. "They've got some good people in there who know
what needs to be done, but they're not going to stick their neck out
and just start cutting trees. They're caught in the politics."
Getting the Colorado delegation on the same page could be key to
getting federal funding for pine beetles, but it looks like that level
of cooperation is far from reality.
"I thought most states sat down and caucused on some of these vital
issues, but it doesn't sound like this has happened," said Long. "The
same tired legislation that didn't pass last year gets a facelift and
they try it again."
"If we're going to see anything done in a way that's timely and
meaningful, they must be unified," added Summit County Commissioner
Bill Wallace. "I know Mark (Udall) has been working very hard to try
and get everybody working together on this, but Allard is in lockstep
with the Republican leadership."