DENVER
10/04/2010 07:40 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Church's Park Fire Prompts Michael Bennet, Mark Udall To Call Beetle Kill A National Emergency

As firefighters struggle to contain the now-530-acre Church's Park Fire in Grand County, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall are leading a coalition of Western Senators to procure in emergency funding to address Colorado's bark beetle epidemic.

"The bark beetle has created a national emergency, and work to protect public safety, infrastructure and human lives should be funded as such," Bennet and Udall said wrote in a statement Monday. "Therefore, we encourage the USFS to supplement Region 2 funding to adequately address this disaster, which is decimating the West."

Last year, Colorado's Senators got Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to dedicate $40 million in existing funds to mitigate the effects of beetles on Colorado's lodgepole pine forests.

Now, in the wake of a particularly destructive fire season in Colorado, they are asking for $49 million more in existing funds.

Bark beetles have multiplied in the West of late due to an absence of prolonged cold during winter. They have left large tracts of dead lodgepole pine trees in their wake, which--most, but not all, believe--has heightened the risk for fire.