Garfield County broadens fireworks ban in lead-up to July 4th holiday
Garfield County commissioners on Monday unanimously agreed to extend the county’s ban on the sale, possession and use of personal fireworks to the interim stretch leading up to Independence Day due to the growing wildfire danger.
The commissioners in March enacted what in recent years has become a routine annual ordinance prohibiting the use of personal fireworks in unincorporated parts of the county.
This year, though, they agreed to include the possession and sale of such fireworks at the various roadside stands and other businesses that happen ahead of the July 4th holiday.
Colorado law allows local jurisdictions to ban the sale, possession and use of fireworks year-round, but exempts the period of time from May 31 to July 5 so fireworks that are considered legal in the state can be sold and used during the holiday.
Counties and municipalities are asked to assess the local conditions to determine if the ban should apply to that period of time, as well.
And in Garfield County, the conditions are bad and getting worse, Garfield County Emergency Manager Chris Bornholdt advised the commissioners at their off-site meeting in Parachute on Monday.
Across the region, most of Colorado including Garfield County, along with all or parts of neighboring states are expected to have above normal potential for wildland fires through the remainder of June and into July, Bornholdt said, pointing to predictions from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
And, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System, Garfield County is in the midst of its seventh-driest year to date over the past 128 years.
“As of today, the snowpack in the upper Colorado River Basin is 0% (of normal),” Bornholdt said. Just a week ago, it was 42% of normal, he said.
“The river peaked on June 13, so we’re seeing those flows really tapering off, and after that there’s no more snow to melt.”
Monsoonal moisture flows later in the summer can help, but those rain events tend to be isolated, he said.
Moisture percentages in the sagebrush and pinyon that dominate the lower-elevation landscape in the county are also at or below average and falling fast, he said.
“Although recent precipitation has improved local conditions, it is expected to be dry and warm in the weeks approaching the July Fourth holiday, and fuel moisture percentages are expected to further decrease in the next two weeks, creating a high fire danger,” reads the county’s resolution extending the fireworks ban to the interim period.
The fireworks ban applies to unincorporated parts of Garfield County, and does not impact commercial fireworks displays, which could still be approved by local fire districts.
As the conditions continue to dry out, local municipalities and fire districts could also implement fire restrictions, which ban not only the use of fireworks but open burning and use of other flammable devices.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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