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Annual fireworks ban in Garfield County now includes sales, possession

A seasonal fireworks stand that traditionally sets up near the intersection of Colorado Highway 82 and Cattle Creek Road around the Fourth of July has sparked resident complaints in past years when the fire danger has been high.
Post Independent file photo

Not only will it be illegal to use personal fireworks in unincorporated Garfield County this year, the county is now prohibiting both the sale and possession of fireworks.

Whether that ban will apply to the lead-up period before the Fourth of July holiday, however, won’t be decided until May.

County commissioners this week adopted an ordinance banning fireworks for a third straight year due to the likelihood of another dry summer.



The ban formally takes effect in April and lasts all year, although a supplemental resolution is needed to have the ban apply to the period of time from May 31 to July 5.

That window is left open under state law in order for local jurisdictions to determine whether the fire danger is such that the ban should remain in effect for pre-Independence Day sales, possession and use during the holiday.



In most years, that becomes necessary, Garfield County Emergency Manager Chris Bornholdt said at the Monday commissioners meeting.

Though the current snowpack stands at about 103% of normal for the Colorado River Basin, that can change quickly with a dry spring and early summer, Bornholdt said.

Up until a few years ago, the county had to wait 30-60 days to put a fireworks ban in place. But the newer provisions make it easier for jurisdictions to put a ban on the books earlier in the season and reconsider during the holiday lead-up, he said.

The Garfield County ban applies to only unincorporated areas, but local municipalities often follow suit with their own fireworks bans.

In previous years, the county ban applied solely to the use of fireworks, though in extreme fire danger years sales bans have been enacted by the county.

After receiving numerous complaints in recent years about fireworks stands setting up during what’s often the driest stretch of the year, commissioners agreed to ban sales and possession, as well.

“We tried it the other way and had protests, so we’ll do it this way, and we’ll probably still have protests,” Commission Chairman John Martin said during a Feb. 28 meeting when the draft fireworks ban was first presented.

No one from the public spoke at the formal public hearing on Monday when the ordinance was adopted. There will be another chance, however, if the commissioners decide to extend the ban to the May 31 through July 5 stretch.

A recent change in state law reclassifying violations of fireworks ordinances from a class II petty offense to a civil infraction is also reflected in the county’s ordinance.

The ban does not apply to commercial fireworks displays involving a professional operator or vendor, which can still be permitted by local jurisdictions.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.


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