Ordinance 2012-1, which must still be approved on second reading before going into effect, states: “No person shall initiate an open fire without first notifying San Miguel County Communication Center at 970-728-1911, on that same day, of the intent to initiate such fire and its estimated duration.”
The ordinance exempts agricultural burns that have a prescribed fire plan and are done within federal and state guidelines as well as campfires or fires within containers such as charcoal grills, fireplaces and burn barrels. To initiate any other fires, the ordinance requires that you inform the county of the planned burn.
San Miguel County Emergency Manager and Administrative Officer Jennifer Dinsmore said the ordinance is intended to save time and money. Oftentimes fires are reported to dispatch, which sends deputies and local fire crews to the area to investigate. Many times, they are called to an area where a controlled burn is taking place. Had dispatch been informed of the controlled burn, they would haven known not to send emergency crews to the area.
Of the fires require county notification, Dinsmore said: “Basically, if the fire is putting out a significant amount of smoke, you should call it in.”
The ordinance establishes a set of penalties for burning without notifying County Communications. A penalty of $50 will be assessed for the first violation, $250 for a second violation and $1,000 for each subsequent violation.
The ordinance authorizes the identification of Red Flag Warning Days, as declared by the National Weather Service, and prohibits open burning on those days. The ordinance also sets penalties for burning on red flag days.
“The reason I think we are taking this action now, is we have seen fires get away from people,” Commissioner Art Goodtimes said. “We are entering into a fire season and what looks to be a drought. We think it will be wise to notify when planning to burn.”
A second and final reading of the ordinance is expected to go before the commissioners at their meeting on May 30 in Norwood.
County Supports Naming Two Peaks After Late Climbers
A resolution was passed on Wednesday declaring support from the San Miguel Board of County Commissioners of the naming of two 13,000-foot peaks located in the Wilson Range after climbing/mountaineering legends Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff.
Before Fowler and Boskoff died in 2006 while attempting to summit a peak in Tibet, they were both active members of the San Miguel County Community.
The two unnamed peaks are located in San Miguel and Dolores counties in the Navajo Lake and Woods Lake region of the Wilson Range. The peaks are just over one mile a part and can be seen from Norwood, where the two made their home. The two peaks are also quite visible from Elk Creek Basin, where a new campground and trailhead for Wilson Peak is located.
Commissioner Joan May said the idea was brought to the board by family and friends of both Fowler and Boskoff. Along with their resolution of support, the commissioners also approved sending a letter to U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in support of naming the peaks. A Congressional Act is one of two ways a mountain can be officially named. If ultimately successful, the two mountains would be named Fowler Peak and Boskoff Peak.
“I think it is such an awesome idea,” May said. “It is a nice way to honor those two important community members who died doing what they love.”
County Joins Telluride on Regional Transportation Authority Agreement
After discussing the issue at its April 25 meeting in Telluride, the San Miguel Board of County Commissioners are ready to move forward with an intergovernmental agreement that would place a ballot question in the November election asking residents if a regional transportation authority should be formed.
So far, only the Town of Telluride and San Miguel County have said they plan to move forward with entering into an intergovernmental agreement.
If a regional transportation authority is approved by voters in the fall, a separate and legal taxing authority would be put in place to begin working on the region’s transportation issues. The transportation authority would be governed by representatives from each of the governmental entities that have signed the intergovernmental agreement. Other entities that could sign the agreement include the Town of Mountain Village, the Town of Norwood, the Town of Ophir, and representatives from Down Valley, including Sawpit and Placerville.
The formation of a regional transportation authority, which must be approved by voters, does not raise taxes. If an authority is ultimately approved by voters, it will be up to the authority’s representatives at that time to research and decide if a taxing mechanism is needed. If so, that must be approved by voters in a subsequent election.
“Generally speaking, we are all in favor of at least moving forward with the IGA,” Commissioner Elaine Fischer said. “For the time being, this is a structural thing. There are no tax consequences at this point. This puts the structure in place and the devil’s in the details on how it plays out into the future. For now, it gets the conversation happening more coherently of what the future of transit is in San Miguel County.”
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