Funds to be released for mitigation: Commissioners deny Florissant board applicants

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As the Black Forest Fire continued its destructive path June 13, a report from Teller County commissioner Marc Dettenrieder seemed eerily appropriate. “The federal Farm Bill has an amendment that will classify wildfires as disasters, the same as tornadoes and hurricanes,” Dettenrieder said.

On a positive note, funds for the Wildfire Risk Reduction Program, a result of SB 289, should be available in July, he added. “This is $9.8 million available for pre-fire mitigation efforts on state and private lands in Colorado,” Dettenrieder said. “This program focuses on large-scale fuel-reduction efforts.”

As of early May, the U.S. Forest Service has treated 3,200 acres in the Waldo Canyon burn area, applying strong mulch and wood-tread to reduce the risk of mud slides, Dettenrieder said.

Along with worries about fire and flood, Teller County residents face an increase in their electric rates as a result of SB 252, which mandates that cooperatives such as IREA increase their renewable-energy sources to 20 percent.

Commissioner Norm Steen is part of the opposition. “At Western Interstate Region Conference I started work on a resolution, eventually approved by the state of Colorado, opposing mandates for renewable energy,” Steen said. “Renewable energy is not a bad thing but my feeling is that, when you direct things that are not economic in nature, they result in higher rates for agricultural users.”

The resolution opposing mandates is expected to go to the national level, Steen said.

In other news, Steen reported that Fort Carson contributes $2.2 billion to the local economy. “I want to make sure that Teller County understands the needs of our military community and supports our military,” he said. “There are things we can do economically but also to help our soldiers who are just coming back from wars overseas.”

On the issue of Temporary Aid to Needy Families, TANF, Steen was elected co-chair of the works-allocation committee at the state level. The committee determines the formula for distribution of the funds. “The purpose of TANF is to provide funds on a limited basis so that people can move off welfare and become independent,” he said. “I'll be very much engaged in that process.”

As chairman of the go-go board of commissioners, Dave Paul was elected vice-chair of the mountain communities committee for Colorado Counties, Inc.

Later in the meeting, the commissioners denied a request by four applicants to be appointed to the board of directors for the Florissant Water & Sanitation District. The four are acting as the current board; however, because the district bypassed the past four elections, the board is not legitimate, said county administrator, Sheryl Decker.

“I have talked with the state; it is my recommendation, and the state does concur, that we not appoint anybody but step up the efforts to get qualified people to create a legitimate board,” she said.

According to a legal notice in the June 12 edition of the Courier, the district has scheduled a public hearing on a treatment and distribution plan at 6 p.m. July 5 at the district offices in Florissant.

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