Instead of Saving Homes from Wildfire, Colorado’s Congressional Delegation Spends Billions to Log National Forests

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Senator John Hickenlooper, and Representative Joe Neguse helped spend over $3.3 billion in taxpayer dollars to log national forests, funds that could’ve protected homes from wildfire, according to Eco-Integrity Alliance, a national coalition uniting the environmental movement, with a base in Colorado.

Eco-Integrity Alliance has erected a billboard on E. Colfax Ave. & Quebec St. in Denver, demanding that these elected officials “Stop Wasting $3 Billion to Log Our National Forests – Save Lives With Firewise Homes Instead,” displaying images of logging next to a home protected from wildfire.

The large wildfires threatening homes and communities in Colorado and across the West are the result of high temperatures and drought exacerbated by climate change, coinciding with high winds. [1]

The U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station Fire Sciences Laboratory found that making homes “Firewise”—tending an area up to 100 feet around structures, installing metal roofs, etc.—protect up to 95 percent of homes from even the biggest fires. [2]

Meanwhile, preserving carbon-storing forests on public lands would do more to address the climate crisis than any other proposal considered by Congress or the Environmental Protection Agency, with a recent study showing that logging emits more carbon than wildfire and insects combined. [3]

Yet instead of taking the two most effective actions in response to climate-driven wildfire, the federal government—at the behest of Bennet, Hickenlooper, Neguse, and others in Congress—has allotted over $3.3 billion under the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to more logging under the guise of “wildfire risk reduction,” money that instead could go to protecting homes. [4]

Not only doesn’t logging prevent the big fires that menace our communities—the Marshall Fire outside Boulder burned almost entirely through grasslands and residential neighborhoods—but can actually dry out forests by opening stands to sunlight and wind, spreading flames faster. [5]

Yet this “log to save the forest” scheme is exactly what’s planned for 3.5 million acres of public lands in Colorado’s Front Range, and tens of millions of acres across the West, according to the Forest Service’s “Confronting the Wildfire Crisis.” [6] Meanwhile, the lion’s share of the work and costs to actually protect homes from wildfire fall on communities and homeowners.

“At best, logging backcountry forests under the guise of ‘wildfire risk reduction’ is pointless, expensive busywork,” says Josh Schlossberg, Evergreen, Colorado-based steering committee member of Eco-Integrity Alliance. “At worst, it’s degrading natural ecosystems, exacerbating climate change, and providing a false sense of security that endangers the homes and lives of Coloradans.”

Eco-Integrity Alliance’s mission is to unite the environmental movement through common campaigns of mutual support. Eco-Integrity Alliance’s six-person steering committee members are based in Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. Guiding Principles and other info can be found at eco-integrityalliance.org.

Published by eco-integrityalliance

The mission of the Eco-Integrity Alliance is to unite the “alternative” environmental movement under a big tent of ecological integrity through common campaigns of mutual support.

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