Task force: Colorado homeowners should pay to live in burn zones

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s wildfire team  unveiled an  overhaul of how Colorado deals with the growing problem of people building houses   in  forests prone to burn, shifting more of the responsibility to homeowners.

The overhaul recommends that lawmakers charge fees on homes built in woods, rate the wildfire risk of the 556,000 houses already built in burn zones on a 1-10 scale and inform insurers, and establish a   state building code for use of fire-resistant materials and defensible space.

Sellers of homes   would have to disclose  wildfire risks, just as they must disclose flood risks. And state health officials would adjust air-quality permit rules to  give greater flexibility for conducting controlled burns  in overly  dense forests to reduce the risk of ruinous superfires.

“People want to live in these forested areas. What we need to do is come together to figure out how we can do that, whether that is stiffer building codes in those communities or having industries develop building materials that put homeowners at less risk,” Hickenlooper said Monday at the Capitol,  where lawmakers are poised to discuss these and other recommendations.

The plan “is Colorado taking steps to address a Colorado problem,” Hickenlooper said

Citing the report by his 18-member Wildfire Insurance and Forest Health Task Force, Hickenlooper talked about the growing burden of dealing with wildfire in Colorado at a time when federal support is unlikely to increase…read more

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