Garfield County, BLM impose fire restrictions on private, public lands
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Garfield County and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday announced fire bans on public and private lands in the region, in response to the ongoing drought and increased fire danger at elevations below 8,000 feet.
The fire bans, classified as Stage 1 restrictions, were to go into effect Thursday, according to spokesman David Boyd of the BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office near Silt, and Walt Stowe, public information officer for Garfield County. The restrictions cover BLM lands in Garfield, Mesa, Pitkin and Routt counties, and private lands in Garfield County.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia, in an email to the Post Independent, wrote, “My office will be prosecuting any offenses on these to the fullest extent of the law. There will be a zero-tolerance (approach) this year.”
The only active fire in the region covered by the restrictions, according to Boyd, is the Brush Creek fire north of Rifle. Boyd said that fire fighting equipment is expected to be pulled out of that area today, as the fire is expected to be nearly fully contained.
But, Boyd added, “We could get some more lighting by this weekend, which could mean more natural starts” to fires in the region.
The restrictions are:
• Campfires are allowed only within designated fire grates in developed campgrounds. Fire pans and rock fire-rings are not acceptable under the restrictions.
• No fires of any kind, including charcoal fires, outside of developed camping areas.
• No smoking except with 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, except in an area that has been cleared of vegetation.
• No operation of any internal combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed and in working order.
The ban includes fireworks, which always are prohibited on BLM, National Forest and National Park Service lands anyway.
According to Boyd, based on local conditions, the White River National Forest is not initiating fire restrictions at this time, nor are Eagle and Pitkin counties for private lands.
Local fire officials in those jurisdictions, however, remind the public that fire danger remains significant and urge all to be careful with fires.
According to Boyd’s statement, restrictions on BLM lands “will be in place until further notice.”
Violation of the fire restrictions carries a fine of up to $100,000 or up to a year in prison, or both, and those found responsible for starting a wildfire will face restitution costs for efforts to suppress that fire.
For more information, check the website of the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit (http://gacc.nifc.gov/rmcc/dispatch_centers/r2gjc/) or call the office at 970-876-9000.
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