An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Regional News

New Colville Reservation Fireworks Ban in Response to Wildfire Hazards

Mark Pouley via flickr
Colville Reservation, Washington

Last year’s fire season was a brutal one in northeastern Washington. With that in mind, the Colville Tribe has decided to ban all fireworks on the reservation.

Colville tribal officials have decided the risk of wildfire is just not worth allowing fireworks on the reservation this year. Fire officials say the fire season is already three weeks ahead of schedule, and they are concerned what the hotter temperatures may bring.

The ban authorizes tribal police to seize fireworks and also creates an agreement with the Ferry County sheriff's office.

County Sheriff Ray Maycumber says he has certified twenty tribal police officers as deputy sheriffs for Ferry County.  He states, “I’ve cross commissioned them, and, as such, they will be able to enforce the county’s fireworks ordinance on the non-tribal members on the reservation--because this ban by the tribal council is only for the non-members.”

And that’s where the ban gets a bit tricky because the county fireworks ordinance is not a full ban.

The sheriff says from his reading of the county ordinance the so called “Safe and Sane” type fireworks, like sparklers, would not be illegal for non-tribal members to use on the reservation. Even so, Sheriff Maycumber says his office will discourage the use of fireworks that create a fire hazard because that is the intent of both the tribal and county laws.

Tribal officials also say they understand the economic impact this decision will have on our tribal fireworks vendors, but they had to consider the potential impact on the entire community.

The 1.4 million acre Colville Indian Reservation was part of last year’s Okanogan Complex fires and the site of the North Star fire, two of the largest wildfires in Washington State history.