Senator Mark Udall recently called on Colorado homebuilders to use beetle-killed trees to build homes, thus clearing local forests of hazardous trees and creating jobs in the process. At an event showcasing a home built by New Town Builders, a Denver builder of energy-efficient homes that has pledged to use pine-beetle wood in its homes, Udall touted the economic and forest-health benefits to utilizing our state’s four million acres of dead or dying trees felled by bark beetles that otherwise risk potential wildfire or falling on hikers and power-lines.
“Beetles have decimated our forest landscape here in Colorado and the down economy has made it difficult to address the issue of clearing dead and dying trees with public funds. Homebuilders using beetle-killed timber to construct homes is a sensible solution that would not only remove hazardous trees near roads, power lines and trailheads, but it would also boost mountain economies with jobs in clearing, processing and building with the timber,” commented Udall.
In July, Udall sent a letter to the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture to get help for Colorado’s ailing timber industry by asking for a renegotiation of legacy timber contracts, which were making it more expensive and complicated for sawmills to remove dead trees from the forest. In August, the Forest Service responded by giving timber sale purchasers who are struggling financially the option to cancel their timber contracts. If Colorado’s mills close, the nearest mill capable of processing meaningful volumes of beetle-killed trees is 800 miles away in Montana.
“Our sawmills employ hundreds of Coloradans in rural communities; a ‘mutual cancellation’ of these contracts makes it more affordable for them to cut down dead trees, improve public safety and keep alive our forest-management industry and the rural communities that depend on it,” Udall said.