Let it burn?


Despite wildfires smoldering across the West in recent weeks (outside of Denver, in Southern California, and near Arizona’s Kitt Peak Observatory), one Colorado town is backing off on wildfire protection.

Breckenridge, Colo., a mountain resort town about 80 miles southwest of Denver, this week revoked an ordinance requiring homeowners to thin vegetation and remove trees around their homes to reduce fire danger, reported the LA Times. Similar ordinances are routine for Californians but unusual in other Western states.

Breckenridge residents, concerned that the law would hurt property values, encroach on property rights and require expensive tree removals, submitted a petition with over 330 signatures to the town council. The council chose to repeal the month-old law rather than put it to a vote.

Never mind that thousands of trees in the area are already dead from the mountain pine beetle epidemic (which HCN covered a few weeks ago), which prompted the council to pass the ordinance in the first place.

Or that fire officials who were counting on the law to help in defending homes must now rely on voluntary vegetation clearing from residents.

While summer temperatures -- and fire danger -- peak, Breckenridge's reversal on fire safety isn't setting a good example:

Opponents have criticized the strategy as pointless unless other communities in the area participate. Many state residents had followed closely the developments in Breckenridge, one of the few communities--if not the only--in Colorado to take such an aggressive approach.   LA Times