Feb 17, 2022 Updated Feb 24, 2022
A House panel on Thursday passed three bills that aim to spend nearly $27.5 million over the next two years on grant programs to encourage mitigation strategies and combat more frequent and intense wildfires. Lawmakers are considering the bills less than two months after the Marshall fire — the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history — tore through Boulder County, burning over 6,000 acres and destroying more than 1,000 homes. Record-breaking wildfires have become more and more common in the state, with the three largest wildfires in Colorado history all occurring in 2020. If enacted, House Bills 1007, 1011 and 1012 would establish three separate grant programs, all intended to increase wildfire mitigation efforts through financial incentives. The Wildfire Matters Review Committee brought forth the three bills, plus two others focusing on increasing resources for volunteer firefighters and creating wildfire awareness campaigns. “It is clear that we must do more to protect Colorado from wildfires,” said Rep. Lisa Cutter, committee chair and sponsor of HB-1011 and HB-1012. “Our inability to meet the challenge of wildfire mitigation has cost our state dearly.” Cutter, D-Littleton, said Colorado mitigated only 6% of the state’s high-priority target areas from 2008 to 2017. In addition, the Colorado State Forest Service estimates that Colorado’s wildfire mitigation efforts are underfunded by nearly $4.2 billion.