Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Jan. 20, 2021

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County’s fireworks survey shows rural-urban divide

Residents in more rural areas more likely to include fireworks in Fourth of July celebrations

By , Columbian political reporter
Published:

Your feelings on fireworks could likely depend on where you live in Clark County.

That’s one of the central takeaways from an opinion survey conducted by Clark County of 7,628 residents. The results, released last week, show that generally residents in more rural areas are more likely to include fireworks in their Fourth of July celebration and are less worried about their accompanying fire hazard than their more urban counterparts.

The survey was administered by Marilee McCall, Clark County Neighborhood Program coordinator. It asked residents how concerned they are by the fire hazards, garbage and noise associated with fireworks, the three issues county staff receives the most complaints about. Residents were also asked how important personal fireworks are to their holiday. Residents were given the choice of responding with “very,” “mildly” and “not.” The results were broken down by ZIP code — there are 20 in or partly within the county.

Survey respondents in the 98674 ZIP code, which includes Woodland and surrounding areas, were the biggest fireworks enthusiasts, with 66 percent saying that personal fireworks were “very” important to their holiday.

“Woodland is a very patriotic city,” said Woodland Mayor Will Finn. “We love America; we love our freedom and everything that comes along with it.”

That includes fireworks, he said.

The result found that 63 percent of respondents in the ZIP code were not concerned about noise produced by fireworks. However, nearly 59 percent were mildly or very concerned about fire hazards. Nearly 58 percent were concerned about garbage.

Survey respondents in the 98685 ZIP code, which includes the Felida neighborhood in unincorporated Clark County, had the least favorable opinions on fireworks. Just 27 percent of respondents said fireworks were very important to their holiday, while 61 percent said they were not. Sixty-one percent of respondents said they were very concerned about fire hazards. Fifty-five and 51 percent said they were very concerned about noise and garbage, respectively.

“It sounds right on the button because every Fourth of July or after we get calls from many people who are quite disturbed by fireworks,” said Milada Allen, longtime president of the Felida Neighborhood Association. “And many of them are veterans or someone who has gone through a traumatic experience.”

Allen added that the neighborhood’s celebration of the Fourth of July leaves out fireworks and instead includes a picnic and children’s parade.

During a county work session held last week, councilors noted that the survey showed that residents in more densely populated areas tend to have less favorable opinions on fireworks.

According to numbers from the U.S. Census, Felida has a density of 2,685 people per square mile. It isn’t as dense as other areas, such as Hazel Dell, which has 4,167 people per square mile (53 percent of its residents indicated in the survey that fireworks were not important to their holiday). But Felida is denser than Woodland, which has 1,392 people per square mile, or Amboy, which has 202 people per square mile (55 percent of its residents indicated in the survey that fireworks were very important to their holiday).

Overall, 47 percent of all respondents said that fireworks were not important to their holiday, while about 40 percent said they were “very” important.

When it came to concerns about garbage and fire hazards, a clear majority of respondents were concerned. Forty-one percent of residents were “very” concerned about garbage and 27 percent were mildly concerned. Forty-eight percent were “very” concerned about fire hazards and 25 percent were “mildly” concerned.

When it came to noise, respondents were split with the percentage of respondents saying they were “very” or “not” concerned, both at 42 percent.

The survey’s results come at a time when various jurisdictions have modified or are considering updates to their fireworks regulations.

Clark County is considering limiting the days fireworks can be sold and ignited in parts of unincorporated county north of N.E. 219th Street. The city of Battle Ground is also considering similar revisions to its firework regulations. The survey shows mixed responses from residents regarding fireworks in those areas.

Finn said that while occasionally the city hears complaints about fireworks, there’s no appetite on the Woodland City Council to change its regulations. In fact, he pointed out that the city will see a fourth firework stand added to its current three because of population growth.

“You have to go with what the people say and what the community is asking for,” he said.

Jake Thomas: 360-735-4515; jake.thomas@columbian.com; twitter.com/jakethomas2009

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