Lower North Fork Wildfire Commission Failure
On Monday, June 4, Governor Hickenlooper signed HB-1352 establishing the “Lower Northfork Wildfire Commission”. Its directives were clear: “to investigate the causes of the wildfire and to make recommendations for legislative … action that would prevent the occurrence of a similar tragedy.”
The bill charged the commission to investigate the following:
- Causes of the Lower North Fork wildfire
- The impact of the Lower North Fork wildfire on the affected community
- The loss of life due to the Lower North Fork wildfire
- Financial devastation incurred by the community
- The loss of confidence by the community in response to the emergency by governmental bodies at all levels
- Measures to prevent the occurrence of a similar tragedy
To date, the Commission has held four public meetings, on August 13, August 22, September 5 and September 25. Still, not a single member of the Colorado State Forest Service – the entity that started the prescribed burn, which destroyed our homes and killed three of our neighbors and family members – has been asked to testify.
Instead of focusing on the causes of the Lower North Fork wildfire and the directives above as stated by Governor Hickenlooper’s bill, the Commission’s agendas have focused on obtuse themes related to generic forest fires that have no relevance to the specific facts or circumstances of the Lower North Fork Fire. Hours have been wasted on “Forest Health”, “The Viability of the Timber Industry”, “Wildland-Urban Interface”, “Air Quality Regulations”, “Methods of Watershed Protection”. The only real Investigation of the fire had to be done by the Homeowners, as they rebuilt their lives, who presented it to the Commission.
While each of these topics may have merit, none has anything to do with the causes of the fire, nor the injury or harm done to us by the State of Colorado. In its erroneous focus the Commission has disregarded the Governor’s mandate in HB-1352. This Commission’s efforts have made a mockery of the justice it was intended to secure. The State of Colorado is ignoring its moral obligation to provide just and expeditious restitution for the devastation it has brought to our lives. We continue to demand that the State take responsibility for causing us irreparable harm and make us whole again.
Meeting Agendas with Testimony/Topics Outside of Charter Highlighted