Fire bans should apply without exception

Editor:

Your editorial that appeared on Feb. 19 clearly points out the possibility that controlled burns quickly and easily could out of control in Colorado's fickle weather and drought-plagued landscape.

Can you explain the logic for the enclosed bill, recently passed by the Colorado Legislature, that exempts "agricultural burns" from fire bans established by county commissioners following the advise of local fire chiefs and the county sheriff?

Our local member of the Colorado House, Don Coram, who is one of the authors of this bill, could not, when asked. Since the word "agriculture" is not defined in this bill, and since most privately-owned land in Montezuma County is zoned ag-residential, this bill appears to exempt most landowners in this county from any fire ban established for the unincorporated areas by the Montezuma County Board of County Commissioners. In my opinion, that is bad policy.

Granting immunity from damages caused by a controlled fire that gets out of control, even if managed by a "certified burn manager," seems problematic also.

Much of the privately owned land in Montezuma County abuts federal land. If a "controlled" fire started on private land by a certified manager escapes to federal land, will the Untied States government honor this state-granted immunity? If not, will the state of Colorado assume financial responsibility for any damages? Ellen Roberts could not answer that question. Can you? Granting immunity from damages caused by an out-of-control fire seems to me to be even worse policy.

Fire bans should apply to everyone - no exceptions. Immunity from damages should be determined by the courts, not granted by the state legislature.

Greg Kemp

Mancos