Fireworks use prohibited in Garfield County

Ban does not restrict municipal fireworks displays or sales of fireworks

June 11, 2018

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Citing public safety concerns, the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners has unanimously supported a prohibition on use of fireworks, due to high fire danger and ongoing dry conditions. The board discussed the matter at the June 11 regular county board meeting during a public hearing. No members of the public testified in the matter, and the fireworks prohibition was immediately put into effect.

Stage 1 fire restrictions are already in effect for Garfield County, state lands and Bureau of Land Management lands within Garfield County borders, the City of Glenwood Springs, and the Town of Carbondale. No permits for open burning are being approved until sometime this fall.

Garfield County Emergency Manager Chris Bornholdt told the commissioners that the county may elevate its restrictions soon. “We had seven fires this past weekend, and one was fairly large near the interstate,” he said. “It ended up closing the westbound lanes of I-70 and Highway 6 (near Rulison) for a couple of hours. I think this fireworks ban is a good thing to prevent future starts that may cause a large wildfire.”

The county’s ban does not affect fireworks displays planned by municipalities or fireworks use in towns within the county. However, Battlement Mesa is unincorporated, so the firework ban is in effect for residents in that area.

The ban prohibits ignition on private lands and county-owned lands in unincorporated Garfield County. Restrictions for federal lands are determined by the individual agencies, though firework use and possession are prohibited on all U.S. Forest Service lands, and the Forest Service also prohibits exploding targets as well. The BLM prohibits use and possession of fireworks on its lands in Colorado altogether.

The Garfield County ordinance potentially could remain in effect through December 30, 2018. The ordinance does not affect the sales of legal fireworks in Garfield County.

Bornholdt presented information to the commissioners in late May, and again on June 11. Garfield County faces drought conditions categorized as severe to extreme; 2018 weather outlooks call for increased chances of warmer than normal weather, which causes the foliage “green up” period to be shorter, and fine fuels (such as grasses) to be more susceptible to early ignition. Locally, wood fuels contain relatively low moisture content.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), odds favor above normal temperatures for western Colorado in June, which is typically the driest month of the year. The agency noted that significant wildland fire danger for June is above normal for much of Colorado, especially in the west and southwest parts of the state.

Cities in Garfield County may choose to adopt the ordinance as their own through a resolution without going through the full process of adoption that the county utilizes.