Public lands agencies launch fire ban

County burn ban still in effect

FIRE RESTRICTIONS are in place for BLM, tribal and National Park Service lands as well as for the portions of the San Juan National Forest below the line shown.

Stage 1 fire restrictions took effect Wednesday on lands administered by the BLM Tres Rios Field Office, the San Juan National Forest, Mesa Verde National Park and the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Indian Tribes. A burn ban is also in place for private lands in the unincorporated areas of Montezuma and Dolores counties.

The Forest Service restriction line bisects the San Juan National Forest from east to west, following identifiable jurisdictional boundaries, roads and trails at approximately 8,500 feet, with only those areas south of the line covered by the mandatory fire restrictions. These lower and middle-elevations are dangerously dry, while upper elevations remain green. All BLM and Mesa Verde lands are restricted.

Public lands agencies continously monitor the conditions throughout the area and will modify the restrictions as needed. Current weather patterns indicate a prolonged period of high temperatures, extremely low relative humidity and sustained high winds. This year, officials say, the weather and fuel conditions are similar to those during historic large fire events in the region.

Additional firefighting resources have been pre-positioned in the area as a precaution, including wildland firefighting crews, engines and air support. Stage 1 restrictions include the following:

Campfires are limited to permanent fire rings or grates within developed campgrounds.

Smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, or 3-foot-wide areas cleared of vegetation.

Acetylene and other torches with an open flame or prohibited.

The use of explosives and fireworks is prohibited.

Fire managers highly recommend the additional safety tips, even for areas not yet under restrictions:

Dispose of cigarette butts in an ashtray or other appropriate container.

Make sure chain saws and other internal-combustion engines have approved, working spark arresters. Carry water, a shovel and fire extinguisher with you and operate within areas clear of flammable materials.

Park vehicles in areas clear of vegetation.

In higher-elevation areas where campfires are allowed, use established fire rings in areas clear of vegetation. Have a shovel and water handy, and put campfires out completely every time you leave camp. Pour water on the ashes and stir until there is no smoke and ashes are cool to the touch.

Remember that fireworks are never allowed on federal lands, even when restrictions are not in place.

Federal agencies use a three-stage process to limit activities that could cause wildfires during drought conditions. Stage One restricts the activities as indicated above.

Stage Two includes all Stage One restrictions, plus prohibits welding; the use of chain saws; and building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or stove fire. Stage Three prohibits all burning.