Hunters should be aware of fire restrictions still in effect
The statewide fire ban in Colorado has been lifted, but hunters should be aware that fire bans might still be in effect on federal land. Also, conditions remain very dry, so hunters should take extra precautions to prevent wildfires in areas where fires are allowed.This summer marked one of the worst fire seasons in the state’s history. But even though wildfires took their toll on some of Colorado’s backcountry, the fires’ aftermath won’t have much effect on the 350,000 people that hunt in the state every year. In fact, Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) officials are certain there will be plenty of opportunities for excellent big game hunting throughout the state in October.”Even in game management units that had fires this summer, there still is a vast amount of good hunting habitat to chose from,” said Bruce McCloskey, deputy director of DOW. “We have the highest number of elk ever recorded in the state. That, combined with the high numbers of licenses we are issuing, makes Colorado a great destination for elk hunters this year.”Precipitation throughout Colorado has eased state burning restrictions, but the fire danger in individual counties and on federal land is assessed separately, and fire regulations may differ depending upon the location.The best source of fire information for hunters on the specific area in which they plan to hunt is the U.S. Forest Service. Hunters can find the information on the Forest Service’s website at http://wildfires.nwcg.gov/, or can call the Forest Service at (303) 275-5350 during regular business hours. Calling the county sheriff’s departments in desired hunting areas is also a good idea.Even with the recent precipitation, there still is significant fire danger throughout Colorado, and hunters should be cautious when it comes to fire in the backcountry. Hunters, campers and hikers are urged to take the following precautions when it comes to fire:-Don’t leave campfires unattended or abandon them. Nationwide, 85 percent of all wildfires are caused by humans, and unattended or abandoned fires are to blame for many of them.-Be careful with gas lanterns, barbecue grills, gas stoves or anything that could possibly ignite a wildfire.-Park vehicles only over bare ground or pavement. Hot engines start fires when parked over dry grass.-Keep cigarette butts in the car. Embers that would go out in normal years could start a fire in this year’s unprecedented dry conditions.-Do not dump ashes or charcoal where they could start a fire, and douse them completely with water before disposal.-Do not use camp stoves inside a tent. Even the most cautious camper can knock over a stove, risking starting a major fire and losing his or her life.-Be ready to stop fires. Carry a shovel and water as you head into the wild, and know how to use them to put out a fire.-To report a fire, call 911.If campfires are allowed, please take the following precautions:-If there are no established fire sites, clear any new site down to bare soil.-Build a fire ring out of rocks. Keep the fire under 4 feet in diameter, with at least 10 feet of clearance around it.-Build fire away from overhanging branches, steep slopes and dry grass.-Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze can cause a fire to spread rapidly.-Keep a bucket of water and a shovel near the campfire.-When putting out a campfire, drown it with water and then stir the fire with water and dirt until all the fuel is cold to the touch. Never leave a fire until it is completely out and cold.
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