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Tipton to talk at town halls


U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, will hold a town-hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Durango Public Library.

The congressman will brief residents and take questions on his legislative efforts in Washington, including bills to address the region’s wildfires and veterans’ health care.

The visit is timely. As forest fire season gets underway, the congressman has introduced the Healthy Forest Management Act and co-sponsored the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act.

The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would require that Congress sign off on plans for supplemental funding from federal agencies such as the Department of Agriculture. It also would require the inclusion of the cost of wildfire suppression over the last 10 years in the president’s budget.

The Healthy Forest Management Act, which excludes wilderness areas and national monuments, would allow Colorado to institute preemptive measures such as “prescribed fire, mechanical thinning, chemical applications, grazing or combinations of these methods” in sections of nearby national forests that would be designated as “high-risk” because of drought and insect infestations.

University of Colorado scientists studying the rise of the infamous bark beetles have attributed their booming populations to a longer breeding season connected to climate change.

While Rep. Tipton has expressed concern over the damage of the bark beetles he has opposed regulations aimed at limiting carbon pollution cited for fueling global warming, as he attributes the changes to “natural cycles.”

Health care for veterans

Congressman Tipton’s focus has been the Veterans Access to Community Care Act and the Healthy Vets Act. The bills attempt to clarify federal rules, known as Veterans Choice, which would allow veterans more than 40 miles away from a Department of Veterans Affairs facility to use outside care providers.

The congressman also has taken issue with the recent proposal in President Obama’s budget to move $10 billion in excess funds currently assigned to the Veterans Choice program to other parts of the VA.

Mariam Baksh is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.

If you go

Tuesday: 6:30 p.m., Durango Public Library

Wednesday: 8 a.m., Pine River Fire Station; 12:30 p.m., Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce; 6 p.m., Ross Argon Community Center

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