In a special meeting Sunday morning, Douglas County Commission passed a resolution prohibiting the use of fireworks on any land but private property and set up a plan to distribute educational fliers to fireworks vendors. The commission also approved overtime use for the sheriff's office in an effort to boost enforcement.
The resolution isn't a burn ban but it does make it illegal to shoot fireworks at Wells Overlook Park and Lone Star Lake, the two county-owned public spaces. It also affects public spaces in Lecompton, which doesn't have its own law enforcement. The county does not have jurisdiction over Lawrence, where fireworks are prohibited anyway. Nor does it affect Eudora or Baldwin City, where they are permitted.
Today, county officials will draw up and distribute a flier on the dangerous dry conditions that will be sent to fireworks vendors and also posted at Overlook and Lone Star as well as, if township officials want, at dead-end roads that have been known fireworks locations in the past.
It's already illegal to shoot off fireworks on any county-owned public right-of-way, including township and county roads, but the commissioners acknowledged it happens frequently.
In approving overtime use, the commissioners also asserted the sheriff's deputies' right to confiscate fireworks from people whom they believe may use them illegally. Under the new resolution, fireworks can only be used on private property, and only with the express permission of the property owner.
The resolution, passed unanimously, only affects this year. The commissioners still may impose a burn ban between now and the Fourth of July if conditions worsen. If they did, fireworks would be banned on even private property.
The fire risk as of Sunday morning is moderate.
Fireworks are also already prohibited on federal lands, which would include levees and Clinton Lake.