Dry springs leads to increased danger of wildfires
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With a heightened concern about fire dangers in western Colorado this summer, the Bureau of Land Management is placing fire restrictions into effect starting today (May 24). The unusually dry spring has increased fire danger to high levels at elevations below 8,000 feet.
The restrictions cover BLM lands in Eagle, Garfield, Mesa and Pitkin counties. Some portions of southern Routt County and northern portions of Delta and Montrose counties are also included within these BLM field office boundaries and covered by these restrictions.
Fire managers base decisions about fire restrictions on specific moisture measurements in vegetation.
BLM will be enforcing the following restrictions:
• campfires are only allowed within designated fire grates in developed campgrounds (i.e. a metal, in-ground containment structure — fire pans and rock campfires rings are not acceptable)
• no fires of any type including charcoal outside of developed areas
• no smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area free of vegetation
• no use of explosive materials
• no welding or operation of an acetylene or other similar torch with open flame
• no operation of any internal combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed and in working order
Fireworks are always prohibited on BLM, National Forest and National Park Service lands.
Gunnison County has issued fire restrictions for all-ownership lands.
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre & Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) has issued fire restrictions for the Gunnison Ranger District only.
The remaining GMUG ranger districts and the White River National Forest are not enacting fire restrictions at this time, because of generally higher elevations and variability in fuel moisture conditions.
Forest officials remind visitors, however, that a fire danger is always present and urge visitors to be very careful with fire, smoking, chainsaws and vehicle exhausts and converters – all of which can cause fires.
Fires are always restricted to designated fire grates in developed areas in the Colorado National Monument.
Restrictions on these BLM lands will be in place until further notice. Violation of federal fire restrictions is punishable by a fine of not more than $100,000 or imprisonment for not more than 12 months or both. Those found responsible for starting wildfires will also face restitution costs of suppressing the fire.
For more information about fire restrictions in these areas, log on to the this National Fire Information Center web page or call the Grand Junction Field Office at (970) 244-3000 or the Colorado River Valley Field Office at (970) 876-9000.