Our view: Fire up the grill, not the Grand County countryside
Ryan Summerlin July 31, 2012
It looks as though Grand County dodged a bullet – in some cases literally – and made it through the early summer fire season largely unscathed.
Even though most jurisdictions here have rolled back fire bans to Stage I, now is no time to be complacent about fire safety.
Nowhere is that more true than at the Byers Canyon Shooting Range, scene of three fires so far this year. Two of those fires were clearly caused by the use of illegal tracer rounds, and the third may have been as well.
How many kinds of stupid are required to shoot a piece of white-hot metal into a tinder dry hillside? (Illegally, we might add.) Anyone who does so should be held fully accountable for the consequences.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials make no bones about it: There will be “no tolerance for tracer rounds at all” at the range. That means not only are shooters forbidden from firing them, they are not even allowed to possess them on the range. Tickets will be issued, and they will be issued in summons form that will require a court appearance, according to officials who said they also plan to step enforcement at the popular range.
Plus, as is the case in many circumstances, whoever is responsible for starting a wildfire through negligence or illegal activity can be held liable for the costs of fighting the fire.
Shooters should also be cognizant of the fact that discharging a firearm is still forbidden in the Sulphur Ranger District of the Arapaho National Forest, except while hunting.
Beyond that, fire safety is often largely a matter of common sense, which some people seem to abandon the instant they leave the city limits. A quick perusal of the Grand County Dispatch call log for any given summer weekend generally reveals all manner of frighteningly foolish fire behavior.
Campers leave campfires burning unattended as they go enjoy another activity or – worse – blithely leave them burning when they head for home. In many cases, these fires were illegal to begin with, as they were started outside developed campgrounds with regulation fire pits.
Given how dry Grand County was in June, it’s a miracle some of this behavior didn’t result in major fires. And even though we are now benefiting from robust monsoonal flow that delivers soaking afternoon rains, that can end as abruptly as it began and we can easily find ourselves right back where we were in June.
For many, camping just isn’t the same without the comforting crackle of a campfire. If you must have a fire, by all means adhere to prevailing regulations, be careful be sensible and don’t abuse the privilege.
And be aware that many other activities – from running a chainsaw to welding to riding a dirt bike – are capable of starting devastating wildfires as well. Please respect our public lands and adjacent private property and consider the possible ramifications of your actions before casually firing up the “barbie” or doing anything else that could torch the countryside, fire ban or no fire ban.