Public land agencies ban all outdoor fires | SkyHiNews.com

Public land agencies ban all outdoor fires

Tonya Bina
tbina@skyhidailynews.com
Grand County CO Colorado

A portable sign informs motorists driving from Rocky Mountain National Park to Grand Lake of the fire ban currently in effect in Grand County. Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News

All campfires on public lands – even at designated developed campsites – are officially banned under Stage 2 Fire restrictions, which went into effect today, June 22.

The Stage 2 fire restrictions are active within Grand County on all Bureau of Land Management lands, U.S. Forest Service lands and in Rocky Mountain National Park.

“Fire restrictions are based on the specific conditions on the ground,” BLM spokesperson David Boyd said in statements released June 21. “The moisture readings in vegetation in northwestern Colorado are drier than they have been in the past decade, and the ‘Energy Release Component’ – which measures how hot a fire would burn – are as high as they’ve been in the past decade.”

U.S. Forest Service restrictions have gone into play due to present fire danger, fire-fighting resources available and the long-term forecast, according to U.S. Forest Service Sulphur Ranger District spokesperson Reid Armstrong. The U.S. Forest Service does not enact fire restrictions in isolation, she said, but with the support of county officials and other federal and local agencies.

The Sulphur Ranger District has beefed up its existing five-person firefighting crew as well, with augmentation of another Type 6 wildfire engine, five crew members from Wyoming, and another 20-person Type 2 initial attack crew from Utah presently staged out of Grand County.

“It’s a big deal to have that in our county,” Armstrong said.

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Grand County commissioners may elevate the county’s present fire ban to Stage 2 as well, pending a decision at the county’s upcoming June 26 commissioner meeting, according to Grand County Commissioner Gary Bumgarner.

Such a decision could mean the use of charcoal-type grills would be off-limits on private property, and could mean a stricter enforcement of smoking outside.

“People need to be cognizant of how harsh the conditions are now,” Boyd said. “The only thing lacking is an ignition source.”

The BLM’s and U.S. Forest Service’s Stage 2 restrictions look similar in several ways. Among restrictions are:

∞ Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire, charcoal grill, coal, wood burning stove or sheepherders stove, including in developed camping and picnic grounds. (Devices using pressurized liquid or gas are exempted, if there is an area 3-feet in diameter cleared of grasses or pine needles)

• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle, trailer, building

∞ Using an explosive requiring fuse or blasting caps, fireworks, rockets, exploding targets and tracers or incendiary ammunition

• Operating internal or external combustion engine, such as chainsaw, generators, motorcycle, ATV, without a spark arresting device, properly installed maintained and in working order. (If you don’t know, ask at a local dealership)

• Welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame except with a current permit, contract or letter of authorization.

The use of fireworks, flares or other incendiary devices is always prohibited on federal lands.

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