Fraser on the right track with beetle-kill tree removal ordinance |

Fraser on the right track with beetle-kill tree removal ordinance

At a recent candidate forum in Granby, both men running for the Colorado Senate District 16 seat said, “When (not if) there is a wildfire in Grand County …” when asked for solutions to the ongoing beetle kill epidemic.

They went on to talk about federal and state funding for mitigation.

And while the real solution to making the best of the beetle kill may, in part, involve the federal government, we cannot wait for a savior.

Through the energy of private enterprise and action on the local level, Grand County can make it through this crisis.

As an example of local leadership taking us in the right direction, the Fraser Board of Trustees last week began discussing an ordinance that would require landowners to remove dead and dying trees from their property.

If the property owner fails to comply, the town can have the trees removed at the owner’s expense.

If Fraser decides to pursue an ordinance, which we hope it does, it would be modeled after something passed by the town of Grand Lake last year.

In August 2007, Grand Lake added “Fire Mitigation Regulations” to its town code driven by concern about growing wildfire risk.

The Grand Lake ordinance declares beetle killed trees to be a “public nuisance” and unlawful. Residents are given a 30-day written notice for tree removal, sent by certified mail. Though landowners may apply for extensions, failure to comply by the 30-day deadline will be met with a fine not exceeding $300, as well as charges for tree removal.

The ordinance was approved by the Grand Lake town board, 6-0.

There will be concerns about this ordinance if Fraser chooses to draft and pass a similar one. However, no concern overrides the wildfire danger created by a private property owner who will not mitigate their trees.

Beyond wildfire, we also face the increasing danger of hazard trees as they dry and roots rot and they start coming down ” on power lines, on homes, on passersby.

While we respect the right of private property owners, property rights end where others’ safety begins.

We praise Grand Lake for being the leaders in this effort and encourage other municipalities that border national forest or public land to take up similar measures.

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