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Ada County Commissioners vote 2-1 to renew firework ban in unincorporated areas

Ada County Commissioners renewed a resolution to ban fireworks in areas of Ada County, specifically fireworks in the foothills where vegetation is a fire hazard.

ADA COUNTY, Idaho — On Tuesday, Ada County Commissioner Ryan Davidson voted against renewing a resolution that would ban fireworks in areas of Ada County, specifically fireworks in the foothills where vegetation is a fire hazard. 

Right now, the Boise Foothills look green, with a lot of late season grass growing, thanks to the late season spring rains. Normally by this time, it would have already turned to brown, because of the lack of rain and hot temperatures.

The rain has been great for farmers, but it has only added to the fuel supply for potential wildfires this season. Every year around this time, the Board of Ada County Commissioners vote to put a fireworks ban across a majority of the county. 

In the map below, fireworks are not allowed at all in the red areas at any time of the year. The blue areas allow fireworks to be shot off, but only during limited times - such as beginning Thursday - when fireworks stands open, through July 5.

Credit: Ada County

The purpose of the ban is to at least offer a reminder and a deterrent to those who think fireworks in the middle of high and dry grasses is a good thing. In October 2021, the Goose Fire tore through the foothills, threatening homes and burned about 450 acres. 

"The fire that we had out there that came really close to going up into the landfill, was strictly as a result of fireworks, with some kids playing with fireworks," Board Chairman Rob Beck said. 

Banning fireworks in the foothills has been a yearly vote. For the last decade at least, the ban has been unanimous - except for the last two years - since Ryan Davidson has been a commissioner. 

"Mr. Chair, I guess I would argue that despite the ban, they still did the fireworks and so I'm generally not in favor of banning much of anything," Davidson said. "I think if we maybe had designated areas, but I get that there's a risk, but I don't believe in banning fireworks."

In fact, Commissioner Davidson said he is not in favor of banning much of anything. He told KTVB as much when asked about his 'no' vote the past two years, saying his Libertarian views preclude him from being somebody who wants to ban something outright.

"That's my default position. Obviously, I'm going to consider every issue independently, but I'm not predisposed to want to use the government to ban things, at least not without very serious discussion and consideration," Davidson said.

When asked about things like littering and whether it should be on the books, Davidson said he thinks littering should be illegal.

"I don't necessarily see that as being synonymous, but if your fireworks cause damage somebody else's property or cause a fire, then I absolutely think you should be liable for civil or criminal penalties," Davidson said.

KTVB then asked Davidson if he considers fireworks in the foothills and similar places is a dangerous combination.

"Well, yes of course there's some potential danger there, but from what I've seen, in these kinds of bans aren't really that effective," Davidson said. "People are going to light off fireworks anyways. You know, with the fire we had recently near the landfill, was I believe teenagers setting off illegal fireworks, so the bans generally - I don't think - are that effective in stopping fireworks in the foothills."

Instead of a ban, Commissioner Davidson said we need to encourage people to use fireworks responsibly and we need to punish people who cause a fire or damage with their conduct. 

Davidson told KTVB he finds it ironic, the symbol of our victory over an oppressive government and how we celebrate it - fireworks - is being banned by oppressive governments across the county. 

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