5:14pm

Wed January 30, 2013
Wildfires

Hickenlooper Signs Wildfire-Related Executive Orders

Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order Wednesday lifting the ban on prescribed slash pile burns on Colorado lands.

The move coincides with the creation of two groups designed to iron out some of the complex issues associated with wildfire prevention.

Bente Birkeland reports from the capitol on the signing ceremony

Last March, Hickenlooper suspended the use of prescribed and controlled burning by state agencies on Colorado lands after the 38-hundred acre Lower North Fork Fire that was caused by a flare-up from a prescribed burn.

The order amends that suspension to allow slash pile burning of forest debris to resume immediately under new guidelines requiring neighbors be notified of the burn and that at least 4 to 6 inches of snow is on the ground to prevent wildfires.

“Slash pile burning remains the least expensive and most effective method of removing slash. These fuel treatment activities not only reduce wildfire potential, but work to increase the health of forests, by thinning forest strands and eliminating weak and diseased trees.”

Governor Hickenlooper says a quarter of Colorado’s population live in the wildland-urban interface, the area of the state most prone to wildfires. Figures compiled by the state show wildfires destroyed 650 structures and killed 6 people in 2012.

The newly created Task Force on Wildfire Insurance and Forest Health will review issues regarding insurance coverage.

“One thing we saw repeatedly last summer, is a lot of people didn’t understand the limitations of their (insurance) coverage. We want to make sure there’s transparency, that everyone understands what they’re buying.”

The other executive order creates the Wildland and Prescribed Fire Advisory Committee. The Committee will advise on all matters of wildfire preparedness, response, suppression and prescribed fire.

The Governor is also requesting an additional $10.3 million from the state budget for the Department of Natural Resources to improve forest health and wildfire prevention in wildland-urban interface areas.

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