Get the marshmallow sticks ready
After almost a full summer of stringent fire bans due to the high wildfire danger, area federal land agencies are lifting some restrictions, including the one on campfires in designated campgrounds, just in time for the busy Labor Day weekend.
Starting Friday, the White River National Forest and area lands administered by the BLM in Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties will reduce fire restrictions from stage 2 to stage 1.
The move to the less-stringent fire restrictions in the result of recent cooler temperatures, increased moisture and humidity over the past few weeks, which has improved fuel conditions on public lands.
“The last few weeks we have received some much-needed moisture and cooler temperatures around the Forest,” White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said Wednesday.
However, stage 1 restrictions will remain in place because the risk for wildfire is still high.
“We are glad we are in a position to lift stage 2 restrictions ahead of the holiday weekend, however we continue to ask the public to recreate responsibly,” Fitzwilliams said.
Higher up in elevation, the Dillon Ranger District, including all White River National Forest lands in Summit County, have been in stage 1 fire restrictions since Aug. 8, and will remain in stage 1 restrictions.
BLM lands in Mesa County and those in Garfield County managed by the Grand Junction Field Office will no longer be under the stage 2 fire restrictions.
“Fire danger remains high and conditions can change daily, so we need people to continue to be vigilant,” BLM Colorado River Valley Acting Field Manager Gloria Tibbetts said in a statement.
According to the statement, fire managers base decisions about fire restrictions on specific moisture measurements in vegetation and other risk factors, such as predicted weather and the amount of current fire activity.
As the summer season winds down, the following Stage 1 restrictions will be enforced on all White River National Forest lands and BLM lands managed by the area field office within Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties:
• Campfires are only allowed within designated fire grates within developed campgrounds, which entails a metal, in-ground containment structure. Fire pans and rock campfire rings are not acceptable under the restrictions.
• No fires of any type, including charcoal, are allowed outside of developed areas, except fires that are maintained or attended within a device that has a spark arrestor and where the fire is fully enclosed at all times, such as a sheepherder type stove.
• No smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area at least three feet in diameter.
• No welding or operation of an acetylene or other similar torch with open flame except in an area that has been cleared of vegetation 10 feet on all sides.
• No operation of any internal combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed and in working order.
• Fireworks, exploding targets or other types of explosives are always prohibited on all national forest and BLM lands.
The stage 1 fire restrictions will be in place until further notice.
“Those found responsible for starting wildfires may face criminal prosecution and paying restitution costs for suppressing the fire,” the federal land agencies advise.
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