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Procedures on prescribed burns, fire bans need to be overhauled
Editor:
Notices of prescribed burns are inadequate, with no phone calls and perhaps no online warnings to localities in jeopardy. Very few signs are posted, and not at all major travel routes or neighborhoods, causing many unnecessary calls to local fire departments.
If residents are properly warned, they can be more attentive to smoke and or possible flare-ups.
I suggest that an improved system be put in place warning all residents of prescribed burns, at least three days before the burn actually happens. I also urge decision-makers to use common sense, especially when high-wind warnings are in effect. Perhaps these burns should be eliminated in our dry environment.
Current fire bans are not proactive and promptly should be linked to red-flag warnings. Many counties, especially Jefferson, issue warnings after the fact.
They also seem reluctant to issue bans around major holidays, especially Memorial Day, July Fourth and Labor Day. Even local weather forecasters urge extreme caution before counties take action.
Ban signs should be visible and readable to residents throughout fire districts. Currently, it appears that these districts are not coordinated, causing confusion as to where and if burning is permitted. One broad ban would be preferrable, thus eliminating this confusion.
The process of instituting bans needs to be streamlined. Decision-makers do not meet often enough and are regulated by confusing criteria. There needs to be a more centralized, simplified and immediate course of action.
Fire ban instigation also seems to be political, with many entities involved. Reluctance rather than prevention seems to prevail.
Economic motivations could be suspect. I am sure that denial will be part of the spin from Jeffco and the State Forest Service. Please investigate.
Ray Sherbechuk
Pine

Wildfire report was hogwash
— and a whitewash
Editor:
Hogwash! “Complete and total hogwash” is a rational person’s response to the bureaucratic cronyism report regarding the Lower North Fork Fire. By simply reading the highlights of the report, it becomes apparent its design is to keep the state, Colorado State Forest Service, and the governor’s office safe from criminal prosecution and impeachment. A report that should have been objective was anything but.
And now the blame is shifted to us for having the audacity and gall to live here in the mountains. Oh yes, that’s right, you and I started and contributed to the “controlled burn”; I forgot.
For more than two decades, my family and I have done fire mitigation on our meager 5-acre parcel, taking responsibility for the conservation of what little forest we have, removing tree slash and pine needles to either slash collection sites or the dump. We’ve gone so far as to rake the forest floor to accomplish that goal. The point is, there are other alternatives to starting fires.
But the illustrious report on the fire still maintains that “controlled burns/prescribed burns” are the only answer to fire mitigation.  What should have been stated in the reports is that it’s the easiest, lazy way to address the issue, not to mention the most risky to life and property. Apparently the governor and state officials care only about the costs of fire mitigation. So, risking lives and property is the cheap way out. Our response to them should be, “What is a human life worth, or the loss of our homes? What is the loss of property value in a once-beautiful environment, which now is a burned-out, blackened area that will take decades to come back?”
I beg you all: Don’t let this die a death of smoke and mirrors to evade criminal prosecution. Andy Hoover is right, as are the Olson family, by condemning the report for the sham that it is. Demand that a criminal investigation take place. Tell the know-it-alls: “No more controlled burns.” Our safety, our lives, our homes and our posterity depend on it.
Steve Carter
Conifer