DENVER — Monday, May 12, 2014 — The current outlook for significant wildland fire potential for Colorado is expected to be normal, at least for the early part of the wildfire season, Gov. John Hickenlooper and state wildfire experts announced today.
Areas of greatest potential for wildfire are the plains of Eastern Colorado, until green-up expands; southeastern Colorado, where severe drought conditions continue; and southwest Colorado, where snowpack values are below average.
“We know wildfires are going to occur, and it’s up to everyone to make sure they are taking the right steps to mitigate the danger and be prepared,” Hickenlooper said. “With forecasts and planning, plus the addition of new resources related to wildfire response, we are doing what we can at the state level to be prepared in the best way possible.”
“The State and our local and federal partners work closely together to continuously improve our response to wildfires” said Paul Cooke, director of Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control. “The capability and systems improvements we are implementing will make us much more prepared to meet the state’s wildfire threat.”
The governor was briefed today about the current wildfire threat by the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. A complete report is available at DFS.state.co.us.
Also today, Hickenlooper signed three bills related to wildfires:
HB14-1008: “Allow CWRPDA Private Entity Forest Health Loans” This bill allows the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority to make loans for forest health projects.
HB14-1010: “Corrections to Prescribed Burning Program Laws” In 2013, SB13-083 created a prescribed burning program under the division of fire prevention and control (division) in the department of public safety. HB14-1010 provides the following technical corrections to the laws pertaining to that program:
To better conform to nationally accepted terminology, the bill replaces the term “certified prescribed burn manager” with “certified burner.”
Currently, prescribed burning standards promulgated by the director of the division must require that either a person certified by the division as a burn manager or a person qualified by national wildfire coordinating group standards as a prescribed burn boss to be present at a prescribed burn site. The bill withdraws the former from the category of persons qualified to attend to the burn.
When a prescribed fire has been deemed escaped, current law requires that “contingency actions” be taken. The bill refers instead to “suppression actions” in such circumstances.
SB14-164: “Colorado Aerial Firefighting Fleet Aircraft Acquisition” The aerial firefighting fleet will include four planes -- two of them leased, two owned by the state -- four leased helicopters, and money for a center to study high-tech firefighting like night vision goggles. The bill also allows Colorado to lease additional aerial resources.