KDNK News, Scott Tipton, July 13, 2018

Station:    KDNK, 88.1 fm (Glenwood Springs), 88.3 fm (Aspen), 88.5 fm (Basalt)

Show:       KDNK News

Guests:    Tipton

Link:        http://www.kdnk.org/

Date:        July 13, 2018

Topics:     Lake Christine Fire, Basalt, First Responders, Spring Creek Fire, Alamosa, LaVeta, Healthy Forest Management Wildlife Act, Fallen and Dead Timber, Standing Dead Timber, Colorado State University, CSU, Carding, Certification, Supertanker, Omnibus Bill, National Forest Service, Forest Health, Watersheds

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HOST RALEIGH BURLEIGH: [00:00:00] So you were recently in the area just last week.

UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM COLORADO’S THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, SCOTT TIPTON: [00:00:04] We were, yeah, and had an opportunity to travel with the governor and Senator Gardner, and be in Basalt and look at the Lake Christine fire and be able to visit with the responders who are addressing it, and visit with some community members, as well, and then, down also to the Spring Creek fire that’s outside of Alamosa up into La Veta, seeing the communities come together to be able to address — unfortunately — what we have going in too many areas in our district right now.

BURLEIGH: [00:00:32] What’s your impression about what should be done?

TIPTON: [00:00:35] I think an important piece of legislation that we hope that the Senate will be taking up soon is The Resilient Forest Act. [It] includes my bill, The Healthy Forest Management Wildfire Act. [I] thought it was interesting, at the Lake Christine fire, [I] was visiting with some of the county commissioners out of Pitkin County, expressing deep concern — obviously — that the power lines that provide all of the electricity going into Aspen were in danger. In fact, it was my understanding from the reports we had that two of the power lines have gone down and they were trying to make sure that they preserved the third. Under the Healthy Forest Management Wildfire Act, it was going to authorize the ability to be able to get in under the power lines and to be able to clean out added fuels which can obviously create a real serious problem in the event of a wildfire breaking out. As we drive around through our areas, we continue to see a lot of damage in forests from the Bark Beetle and [it] just becomes tinder if you get a lightning strike or in unfortunate circumstances where we have human caused fires, as well.

BURLEIGH: [00:01:40] So once again, this Act would open up forests on public lands to companies that might want to take what’s fallen and dead and extract that to sell?

TIPTON: [00:01:51] That’s one of the byproducts, is that you’d obviously be creating some jobs, because we do have some usable timber that we ought to be taking advantage of — standing dead timber. CSU had a study showing the timbers standing does have an extended life.

BURLEIGH: [00:02:08] And what’s the word on the supertanker?

TIPTON: [00:02:11] We’ve actually reached out to the administration. I sent a letter to the president requesting that he do all that he can to be able to expedite the authorization. Right now, they’re waiting for what they call ‘carding’ which is basically certification.

BURLEIGH: [00:02:25] Could you describe the supertanker?

TIPTON: [00:02:28] You bet. It’s basically a converted 747 that has about double the capacity to be able to drop water [or] retardant. A couple of other benefits as well: the way the product is dispersed — be it retardant or water — it’s actually more of a — I guess maybe the best way to describe it — [is] almost a diffuser. So that you aren’t just dropping a massive amount of quantity on it on an individual location, which can cause damage and would certainly be a threat if you had a human underneath it. I think in one drop, it can cover about a mile and a half.

BURLEIGH: [00:03:01] And how are resources looking, as we have had a pretty intense fire season already and have a few more months left in the summer?

TIPTON: [00:03:08] We did some good proactive things, in that regard. As many people are aware, a lot of the Forest Service budget was being consumed in firefighting which then had the unfortunate impact in terms of park maintenance and upkeep, as well, going on for the forests. So we had eliminated the fire borrowing in the Omnibus bill. And I think, at this point, visiting with some of our officials in the Forest Service, I believe we’re in reasonably good shape. But again, I think it does obviously point to the need to be proactive in terms of creating forest health and protecting our communities and our watersheds.

BURLEIGH: [00:03:46] Well, thank you, Representative Tipton, for taking the time once again.

TIPTON: [00:03:50] Thank you.