Experts: Normal Wildfire Season Expected

Wildfire experts are anticipating "normal" wildland fire potential for the early part of the season.

Eastern, southeastern and southwest Colorado are the areas where wildfire potential is expected to be greatest. Officials say southwest Colorado received less snow than usual, while southeastern Colorado is still suffering through severe drought conditions.

Meanwhile, state officials are working to ensure they are as prepared as possible for the looming wildfire season.

“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,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement released Monday. “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.”

Hickenlooper signed three wildfire-related bills into law Monday:

• 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.