by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel
Some years ago I spent a day burning ditches around my peach orchard, as many growers do every spring. The location near Interstate 70 allowed passing cars to see the fires (mine and a couple others), and several grabbed their cell phones to report what apparently looked like an out-of-control wildfire. At highway speed, they could only see the fires for a few seconds, and couldn’t know that they were properly permitted, and carefully controlled. They simply assumed any open fire was a crisis.
Agricultural burning in Mesa County has been debated for a century and is a perennial political issue, often led by well-meaning activists who do not understand the reason such open burning is necessary, at least in some places. They occasionally move to western Colorado from places that do not have the same climate (few places do), crop mix, or range of weed species to deal with. This is a textbook example of why “one size fits all” government does not work.
One thing western Colorado does have in common with most agricultural areas is the simple old adage my dad often repeated, that you cannot grow crops and weeds in the same field at the same time. The weeds always win.