DENVER - Last year, after a wildfire caused by a prescribed burn killed three people and destroyed dozens of homes, Gov. John Hickenlooper put a halt to all controlled burns on state lands.
The move didn't heavily impact Summit County, where pile burns take place primarily on federal land, but the decision to loosen the statewide ban announced last week will.
As part of an executive order amendment allowing prescribed burns under specific conditions, Hickenlooper also formally created a Wildland and Prescribed Fire Advisory Committee, tasked with advising statewide fire officials on wildland and prescribed fire matters.
Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, a former state lawmaker and volunteer wildland firefighter will serve as a member of the committee representing an association of Colorado's counties.
The group has held two meetings already, he said.
"The executive order adds teeth to this committee and reflects the support of the governor," Gibbs told the Summit Daily in an email. "The advisory committee will work to improve Colorado's approach to forest health and to develop a long-term strategy for sustaining vital resources."
Hickenlooper called the advisory committee necessary the revision of last year's prescribed burn suspension. Prior to signing the executive order Jan. 30, he stressed the importance of working with local governments on issues relating to wildfires.
"Wildfires don't respect municipal or county divisions," he said. "They cross all manner of boundaries. Therefore, we've got to make sure we are actively working with counties and municipalities across the state."
Prescribed burns are the scheduled and controlled burning of piles of excess forest debris.
Under the amended executive order the burns will be allowed only where there are 4-6 inches of snow on the ground and neighbors will have to be informed of the impending burn.
The summer of 2012 made history as Colorado's worst fire season on record, beginning in March and witnessing the destruction of hundreds of homes, the burning of hundreds of thousands of acres of land and the loss of six lives before it came to an end.