For millions of Americans, celebrating Independence Day comes with plenty of traditions — parades, barbecues, family reunions and fireworks.

The Fourth of July is a time-honored tradition, one which all Americans should rejoice in. While we celebrate our independence and ache for normalcy as pandemic restrictions come to an end, we continue to live through another severe drought (despite the recent precipitation) and have experienced an onslaught of wildfires in our precious bosque over the past few months.

Legal and illegal fireworks in Valencia County make every Fourth of July a worrisome night not only for residents but for first responders as well. Fireworks safety usually is about preventing personal injury but, for years, the drought has persisted, and the overwhelming concern has been about protecting our land.

Local governments do not have the authority to ban fireworks entirely, but they can and have prohibited the use of certain types of devices. All local government entities in Valencia County have ordinances that spell out what types of fireworks are permitted and those that are not.

While some fireworks are legal, too many people who buy and use them are careless and pose public safety risk. Local firefighters already have enough to do without adding fireworks and unnecessary fires to their list.

Shooting off fireworks is something best left to professionals, especially during a time when everything around us can go up in flames with a single spark.

Yes, let’s all celebrate Independence Day with friends and family, with food and fun, but please remember that the tiniest of sparks from a firework can be devastating. Let’s all enjoy our nation’s birthday by being safe, being smart and being considerate.

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.