Fire-ban penalties could get stiffer |

Fire-ban penalties could get stiffer

WASHINGTON ” A pair of congressmen from Colorado introduced legislation Thursday in the U.S. Senate that would up the criminal penalty for anyone who lights a campfire on public lands in violation of a fire ban.

U.S. Sens. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) introduced the measure in the Senate, while U.S. Reps. Tom Tancredo (R-Littleton) and Mark Udall (D-Eldorado Springs) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The wildfires burning in California are a “tragic reminder of how devastating and unforgiving Mother Nature can be,” Allard said in a press release issued by his office. A prolonged drought and bark-beetle epidemic in Colorado and the resulting buildup of hazardous fuels puts Colorado a precarious fire situation, he said.

The legislation, the Public Land Fire Regulations Enforcement Act, would double the maximum jail sentence for lighting an illegal campfire and increase the minimum fine for starting illegal fires on public lands to $500.

Fire bans are typical on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service in Colorado during the summer months, when vegetation is dry.

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