Why a “Management Plan”? It turns out that planned fires (as opposed to wildfires) are a rather complicated issue. For example, the city of Steamboat Springs allows no open burning within its borders while other towns in the county, which operate with a different fire code, mostly adhere to this management plan, as do all the unincorporated areas. However, Steamboat Springs and its surrounding airshed (roughly to Forest Service property in the East and North, to Steamboat II in the West, and almost to Stagecoach Reservoir in the South) are in violation of Federal Clean Air Standards for particulate matter. Breathing air with particles of road dust or wood smoke in it makes life more difficult for people with already compromised respiratory systems, for the very young, or for the elderly. Therefore, the State of Colorado has delegated open burning permit authority to the Routt County Department of Environmental Health. Since open burning touches so many aspects of rural living, the Fire Protection Districts, the Steamboat Springs Fire Department, the Emergency Management Department, and the Routt County Department of Environmental Health jointly developed this management plan.
In Routt County, the Open Burning Management Plan explains what types of fires require a permit and how to obtain a permit. If you don’t have a plan in hand, this section will describe the process from its simplest form to its most complex. If you have questions about what you read here, call your local fire district representative for information. Best of all, most open burning permits are FREE; you can’t even get lunch for that.
The simplest form of the plan is to permit no burning whatsoever. This happens during hot, dry, windy periods in the summer. When the fire danger becomes extreme either the Governor or the County Commissioners may impose an open burning ban that supersedes anything else you’ll read in this section.
Almost as simple as no burning are the permit exemptions, those fires that require no permit at all. These include:
- Fires for cooking of food,
- Fires for instructional or recreational purposes (e.g., a camp fire),
- Flares to indicate danger to the public,
- Agriculture open burning.
Agriculture open burning has a rather lengthy definition, but if the definition applies to your fire, you will not need a permit and your notification process can be completed with your initial phone call to the Communications Center at (970) 879-1110. This Courtesy Open Burning Notification is recommended for several other burns and is detailed on the next page.
Agriculture Open Burning Definition
- The burning of cover vegetation for the purpose of preparing soil for crop production, weed control, and other agricultural cultivation purposes.
- The burning of wood or waste directly related to the growing and harvesting of crops, raising of fowl or animals for the primary purpose of making a profit, or providing a livelihood, or the conducting of agricultural research or instruction by an educational institution.