Brief by Central Staff
Fireworks – May 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine
One long-standing holiday tradition — celebrating Independence Day with fireworks over Lake DeWeese near Westcliffe — may not return this year.
The lake is managed by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and the fireworks come from donations to the Custer County Merchants and Chamber of Commerce.
In March, the Merchants applied to the DOW for the usual permit. Instead of the usual approval, DOW denied the application, citing four reasons:
Costs of staffing the event and cleaning up afterward; questions about liability for accidents; previous problems with underage drinking at the fireworks show, and a federal policy which says that wildlife areas like Lake DeWeese can be used only for wildlife-related recreation.
Custer merchants offered to clean up afterwards, and County Sheriff Fred Jobe said he could provide additional security at the fireworks show. And the Merchants have a liability-insurance policy.
Which leaves the federal regulation about non-wildlife events, and DOW is consulting with the Colorado Attorney General to see if there’s a way around that.
Our suggestion: it isn’t stretching things much at all to call fireworks and drinking a form of “wild life” related to “recreation,” and thus the event should easily meet the federal criteria.