Simpson, Valdez bill part of multiple legislative actions to save money, improve wildfire preparedness

Spring Fire. File photo.

ALAMOSA – As part of a larger collection of bills passed to promote wildfire preparedness while saving Coloradans money, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Rep. Donald Valdez and Senator Cleave Simpson was recently signed into law, expanding wildfire mitigation tax incentives and creating a wildfire mitigation grant program.

HB22-1077 “Assistance Landowners Wildfire Mitigation” will provide tax relief for landowners taking preventative measures to prepare for wildfires on their property.

For income tax years beginning on or after January of 2020 and ending on December 31, 2025, landowners with property located in the state of Colorado will be allowed to deduct from their federal taxable income an amount equal to fifty percent of their costs in performing wildfire mitigation measures on their property.

The amount of the deduction claimed cannot exceed $2,500 or the total amount of their federal taxable income for that year during which they are taking the deduction.

Also, costs are defined as “any actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred and paid for by the landowner – documented with receipts – performed by the landowner.” Permits, inspections, in-kind donations or cost sharing do not apply.

Wildfire mitigation measures include creating a defensible space around structures, establishing fuel breaks, thinning woody vegetation to reduce risk to structures from wildland fire or second treatment of woody fuels by lopping and scattering, piling, chipping and removing from the site. Prescribed burning is also considered a mitigation measure, so long as the activity meets or exceeds CSFS standards and other state rules.

The bill also creates a Wildfire Mitigation Resources and Best Practices grant within the Colorado State Forest Service, provides recipients with funding to conduct outreach among landowners to inform them of resources available plus best practices for wildfire mitigation. and best practices.

To be eligible to receive a grant, recipients must be an agency of local government, a county, a municipality, a special district, a tribal agency or program or a nonprofit organization plus other criteria specified in the Forest Service’s policies and procedures.

“Colorado is one lightning strike, one unattended campfire, and one drought season away from our next 'megafire',” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “We established larger grants to make impactful investments in local projects to protect life, property, and critical infrastructure, and are moving more resources to hand crews for on the ground mitigation work. We are also serving as an example for employers by enabling state employees more time off to serve as firefighters or first responders in their communities.

“These efforts among others, including landowners creating defensible spaces on their own properties, will give us a fighting chance to create more resilient communities and protect our natural resources.”

“We are taking action to prevent and fight wildfires while saving people money, protecting property, and supporting Colorado’s first responders. Coloradans can support these shared efforts by removing fuel for fires near and around your home and neighborhood,” said Gov. Polis. “These are important steps that can make a big difference to protect a home, neighborhood, and community if a wildfire does break out.”

Local fire mitigation efforts also help protect and support Colorado’s firefighters and save people money which are top priorities for Gov. Polis.

Coloradans can help prevent fires by making property less prone to wildfires and less dangerous to first responders and their neighbors should a fire occur. Fire mitigation can be as simple as checking the areas close to homes and buildings, including roofs, decks, and gutters, for any materials that can serve as fuel for a wildfire, such as pine needles or dead leaves, and removing branches that hang close to the roof.

“Nearly half of Coloradoans live in the Wildland-Urban interface areas of our State,” said Stan Hilkey, Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety. “This population factor, coupled with extreme drought conditions, climate changes, and expected hot and dry conditions, increases the risk of more catastrophic fires in Colorado.

“We have made much needed advancements in recent years, strengthening our partnerships with local and federal agencies, adopting the strategy of an aggressive initial fire attack, improving communications, and investing in our fire-fighting capacity with both aviation and ground resources.

“But given that the large majority of wildland fires are human-caused, there is no better prevention than the people who live, work and play in Colorado being extremely careful that they don't become the cause of our next crisis. Wildfire season is all year now; so should be our awareness and precaution.”

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