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Stoves banned in backcountry

Aspen Times Staff Report

If you like to backpack, then you better develop a taste for nothing but cold food.

The U.S. Forest Service announced Friday that it is making its fire ban more restrictive in the backcountry. That means all camp stoves and charcoal fires are prohibited in national forests.

The restrictions, which also apply to Bureau of Land Management lands, were put in place because firefighting personnel and resources in the region are already overtaxed and no one would be available to respond if a new fire breaks out.

“We have reached a turning point in an unprecedented fire season where firefighting needs have exceeded available resources,” said BLM State Director Ann Morgan in a news release. “We cannot afford a human-caused fire in Colorado.”

Until further notice, building or using a fire or a butane or gasoline stove is prohibited on federal lands, even within developed campgrounds. Also prohibited are smoking (except in a vehicle or building), welding, operating a cutting torch and using an off-road motor vehicle or chain saw without a spark arrester.

Sue Froeschle, public affairs officer for the White River National Forest, said she’s aware the new restrictions might cause some inconvenience, but the public needs to understand how dire the situation is.

“I think people need to look at the big picture,” Froeschle said. “We are exhausting all of our fire resources right now.”

Froeschle said the restriction on gasoline, butane or propane stoves will affect the food choices campers and backpackers make. She said one man, who plans to soon begin a 30-day backpacking trip, said he’s not sure he can make the journey without his stove.

“This could be an opportunity to look at alternative camp foods,” she said, “such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and granola.”


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