Make summer burn ban rule, not exception |

Make summer burn ban rule, not exception

It’s only February, but given the continuing drought, it’s not too early to think about preparing for another wildfire season.

Local fire chiefs are doing just that, putting their heads together and brainstorming ways to try to avoid a summer like last one, marked so memorably by the Coal Seam, Panorama and Spring Creek fires.

While none of those fires were started by controlled burns that get out of control, this remains a common problem in Garfield County. For that reason, we like Glenwood Springs Fire Chief Mike Piper’s proposal, endorsed recently by other local fire chiefs, to make summer burn bans the rule rather than the exception in the county.

The Garfield County Commissioners should adopt the policy of a permanent summer fire ban.

With drought lingering and development continuing in the urban-wildland interface, or “red zone,” the threat of wildfire is the rule rather than exception in most summers. A permanent burn ban would be consistent with this.

The fire ban always could be modified or temporarily lifted altogether in wet summers, and exemptions could be made for farms and ranches as needed and warranted.

A permanent ban would get the public out of the habit of starting fires during the wildfire season, except where otherwise permitted, such as in barbecues and designated campground fire rings.

Public education is a key part of combating the wildfire threat, and a permanent summer fire ban is one way to accomplish this. The Western Slope is prone enough to lightning-caused wildfires. We must work diligently to reduce human-caused wildfires wherever possible.

– Dennis Webb, News Editor

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