Forest Service closes public lands in 5 Front Range counties, Grand not included
The US Forest Service announced all public lands in Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Jefferson and Larimer counties would be closed beginning midnight due to the severe fire potential.
Currently, there are seven major wildfires burning in Colorado, including the largest fire in the state’s history, the Cameron Peak Fire, which has burned over 205,000 acres in Rocky Mountain National Park.
“The number of large fires and extreme fire behavior we are seeing on our Forests this year is historic,” Forest Supervisor Monte Williams said in a release about the closures. “These temporary closures are necessary to protect the public and our firefighters, and we will keep them in place until conditions improve and we are confident that the risk of new fire starts has decreased”
Grand County is not included in the closure of forest service lands, but is instead relying on reminders about the Stage 2 Fire Ban at this time, said Reid Armstrong, a spokesperson for the forest service.
“We put out a statement, in conjunction with the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, with strong language to see if that will work,” Armstrong said. “With two large closures already in the area, we wanted to keep lands open to recreate.”
There are currently closures surrounding the perimeter of the Williams Fork Fire near Fraser and all of the lands north of US Highway 40 and west of CO Highway 125 are closed due to the East Troublesome Fire.
Stage 2 Fire Bans prohibit campfires except propane-fueled stoves, smoking outside and shooting tracer rounds.
However, Armstrong added that if visitors in the forests don’t follow fire ban rules, the forest may be forced to close.
“We really need the public to be vigilant and careful with wildfire,” she said.
The public lands impacted by the closures are experiencing severe drought, extremely low fuel moisture conditions, limited capacity for response due to multiple wildfires and persistent fire-danger weather conditions with no immediate relief in the forecast.
Many of the wildfires currently burning, including the Williams Fork Fire, were caused by human activity, the forest service added.
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In response to a heightened fire risk, Grand County commissioners unanimously approved Tuesday a move into a Stage 1 fire ban that goes into effect at noon Wednesday.