Gov. Hickenlooper keeps prescribed burn ban, but allows slash pile burns under new guidelines

Governor acts after deadly Lower North Fork Fire

DENVER - Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday morning said he is maintaining a ban on prescribed burns on state land, but allowing slash pile burn operations under new guidelines.

The governor banned state prescribed burns last March after one conducted by the Colorado State Forest Service in Jefferson County was rekindled by high winds, sparking the Lower North Fork Fire that killed three people and destroyed nearly two dozen homes.

"These new guidelines go above and beyond the recommended best practices for slash pile burning to ensure all such burns are conducted in a safe and effective manner," the Governor's Office said in a statement.

The action is part of three executive orders issued by Hickenlooper that will also create a task force to strengthen insurance coverage for residents living in wildfire-prone areas and to establish a Wildland and Prescribed Fire Advisory Committee to make recommendations to state fire officials on wildfire preparedness, response, suppression and prescribed burns.

Here are the executive orders:

  • Executive Order B 2013-002 creates the Task Force on Wildfire Insurance and Forest Health to examine how to best protect property and people within and adjacent to the live in the wildland-urban interface and Colorado’s landscape, which is critical to the state’s economic health.

The task force will review issues regarding insurance coverage in the 2012 fires including replacement costs for destroyed homes, relocation assistance, accounting for lost personal property and the timing of insurance benefits. Also, it will explore insurance policies that promote forest health, reduce wildland fire threats and help incentivize wise planning and stewardship and reduce loss of life and property.

  • Executive Order B 2013-001 creates the Wildland and Prescribed Fire Advisory Committee. The committee will advise the Director of the Division of Fire Prevention and Control on all matters pertaining to wildfire preparedness, response, suppression, coordination, or management and prescribed fire.
  • Executive Order D 2013-002 amends the governor's suspension of prescribed burning by state agencies or on state lands to allow for slash pile burning under controlled conditions and new guidelines.