(May 23) – A pair of bipartisan bills to improve Colorado’s response to wildfires and tighten rules on wildfire suppression efforts were signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper today.
SB13-270, sponsored in the House by Reps. Randy Fischer (D-Fort Collins) and Don Coram (R-Montrose), gives the governor more latitude to transfer funds into the Wildfire Emergency Response Fund if a wildfire emergency is imminent.
“The old law could tie the hands of the governor in response to a wildfire emergency,” Rep. Fischer said. “These are obviously situations where we want the governor to be able to act quickly.”
SB13-083, sponsored in the House by Reps. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) and Cheri Gerou (R-Evergreen), clarifies the role and responsibilities of the state Division of Fire Prevention and Control when it conducts prescribed burns. One new requirement is that a state-certified prescribed burn manager or a nationally qualified burn boss be present on site for the duration of any prescribed burn.
“Prescribed fires are an important tool in rejuvenating our forests and reducing the risk of wildfire,” Rep. Levy said. “Senate Bill 83 will allow us to continue using this tool while reducing the risk of tragedies like the Lower North Fork Fire.”
She was referring to a 2012 disaster that began when a Colorado Forest Service prescribed burn went out of control, destroying two dozen Jefferson County homes and killing two people.