Udall Addresses Pine Beetle 'Epidemic'

State and federal lawmakers are scrambling to address the pine beetle epidemic, after the U.S. Forest Service recently announced that in the next five years, most of Colorado's mountain forests will be gone.

In a news conference Saturday, U.S. Rep. Mark Udall said there is no way to stop the pine beetle, only to slow it down and deal with the impact.

"What we have to do it understand what our mountains are going to look like, prepared for that in our mind's eye, but then mitigate the threat from a die-off this catastrophic," he said.

The threat includes massive wildfires feeding off dying trees, flooding in burnt-out areas, and erosion affecting the water supply.

Udall held a workshop in Granby Saturday, encouraging community leaders to talk to state and federal emergency management officials about resources to prepare for the inevitable.

FEMA grants are available for pre-disaster mitigation, firefighter training and assistance, and other disaster programs.

Udall said it is critical to implement policies now, such as creating defensible space and encouraging non-flammable roofs, because those policies will protect mountain communities in the future.

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