Sheriff: County will see fire ban

Gov. Bill Owens prohibits fire in all state forests and parks

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens announced Tuesday a ban on fireworks in all state forests and parks, while a local ban on fireworks countywide might soon follow, said Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead.

"At this point we have not asked for a ban," Grinstead said. "But we're going to get together next Tuesday to see if we need to issue a ban. We will eventually get one."

The ban passed down by Owens only affects a few areas in Moffat County, including Elkhead Reservoir and a few state-owned access points along the Yampa River.

But Owens is encouraging the federal government and local governments to follow his lead.

"I am taking action to protect Colorado from wildfires caused by fireworks," Owens said in a press release. "Effective immediately, fireworks are banned on all state lands, including state parks, recreation areas and wildlife areas. I am asking the federal government to do the same thing on federal lands. I am also urging local governments to immediately evaluate fire conditions in their areas and impose a fireworks ban wherever conditions warrant."

A statewide ban on fireworks does not fall under the jurisdiction of the state government.

"Clearly, cities and counties have the authority to initiate and enforce fireworks bans," he said. "While the drought is statewide, the fire danger is not necessarily the same in all areas. Local authorities are in a better position to make those decisions and they have the power to enforce their bans."

Grinstead said after a telephone meeting with state and federal authorities Tuesday, he will likely come before the Moffat County commissioners asking them to implement a county wide ban.

"I'm confident there will be a fire ban, which involves fireworks," Grinstead said. "I don't mean to ruin people's fun, but given our conditions I don't want to put property or homes in danger."

Under state law, municipalities have authority to ban the sale and use of fireworks while counties have the authority to ban the use of fireworks.

"Local restrictions could contain penalties and enforcement powers that are not possible in a statewide ban," Owens said. "For that reason, every city and county in the state has to take their responsibility regarding fireworks very seriously and take immediate action."

In years past, Grinstead said fire bans have been issued after July Fourth, but this year is drier.

So far fire bans have already been put in place at Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge and Echo Park Campground in Dinosaur National Monument.

Gov. Owens has already declared Colorado as being in its worst drought in history.

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