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House approves fire mitigation bill

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By Sandy Barnes

Legislation extending an income-tax deduction for wildfire mitigation on private property passed the state House on Monday and is heading to the Senate for consideration.

District 25 Rep. Cheri Gerou co-sponsored the bill, which is a continuation of the current law with similar provisions. 

If enacted, HB 1012 would permit landowners to deduct 50 percent of expenses up to $2,500 on state tax returns from Jan. 1, 2014, to Jan. 1, 2025. 

To be eligible for the deduction, the property must be in a wildland-urban interface area in which residents create defensible space around structures. Thinning vegetation near homes and clearing woody fuels by lopping, scattering, chipping and removing are among recommended measures to reduce the danger of wildfire. Residents need to meet or exceed Colorado State Forest Service standards for mitigation to be eligible for the tax deduction.

“More than 4,000 wildfires burned across Colordo last year,” Gerou said. “Any actions Coloradans take to prevent the destruction and tragedies our state witnessed last year should be encouraged.”

Section 2 of the bill continues the authority of the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority to issue bonds to fund watershed protection and forest health projects.

Gerou developed legislation for the benefit of fire victims and residents living in red-zone areas as a member of the Lower North Fork Wildfire Commission. The commission was formed in the aftermath of the March 2012 wildfire that destroyed 23 homes and took the lives of three people.

Gerou said HB 1012 would not benefit people who lost homes in the Lower North Fork Fire but would give others an incentive for mitigation. 

Gerou, a Republican who was re-elected last November, co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Claire Levy, a Democrat serving District 6.

 

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.