COLORADO — There is undeniable natural beauty in Colorado and other western states. Colorado Senator Michael bennet says it also need to be viewed as infrastructure. "People in Washington need to understand that in Colorado and Idaho, across the west our forests and public lands are as important to our economy as the Lincoln Tunnel or the Brooklyn Bridge is to New York."
Bennet is joining with several other western lawmakers introducing a bill that would dedicate $60 billion over ten years, to restoring public lands. It is called the Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act.
"I realize that 60 billion is a big number, but the cost of inaction is far greater.” Bennet refers to the string of devastating wildfires across the west in recent years. Colorado Representative Jason Crow agrees that the cost of rebuilding and recovery after a fire is far more expensive. He said, "What this bill is about is why don't we be proactive, why don't we make the smart investments and save money by making it on the front end." The goal is to restorepublic lands to lower fire danger and protect the water in the west.
The bill is also intended to stimulate the economy and create jobs. "If we do this right, we think our bill can create or sustain over two million good-paying jobs in rural America,” said Bennet. Restoration work would happen on millions of acres of federal land. A third of the budget would be earmarked for collaboration with state and local groups wanting to bring back healthier public lands.