MONTE VISTA — The Rio Grande National Forest is implementing Stage 1 fire restrictions effective at 12:01 a.m., on Friday, May 20. The persistent drought, and the lack of spring rains have led to the dry conditions that elevate fire danger in the San Luis and Upper Rio Grande Valley’s, RGNF officials stated.
“The relentless spring winds have accelerated the snow melt and drying process this year,” said Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas, of the Rio Grande National Forest. “With the increasingly dry conditions, unfavorable long-term forecast, and the beginning of the summer recreation season, we feel this is a prudent decision.”
Stage 1 fire restrictions prohibit:
- Igniting, building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire (including fires fueled by charcoal or briquettes) outside of a permanent metal or concrete fire pit or grate that the Forest Service has installed and maintained at its developed recreation sites (campgrounds and picnic areas). 36 CFR § 261.52(a).
- Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials. 36 CFR § 261.52(d).
- Operating a chainsaw without an effective and properly installed USDA- or Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)- approved spark arrestor, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (with a minimum 8 oz. capacity and rating of 2A) kept with the operator, and a round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use. 36 CFR § 261.52(j).
- Blasting, welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame without being in a cleared area of at least 10 feet in diameter and keeping a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (with a minimum 8 oz. capacity and rating of 2A) with the operator. 36 CFR § 261.52(i).
- Using an explosive. This includes but is not limited to fuses, blasting caps, fireworks, rockets, exploding targets, tracers, and incendiary ammunition. 36 CFR § 261.52(b).
As a reminder, the use of explosives and incendiary devices, including fireworks, are always prohibited on all federal lands.
Fire restrictions will be in place until further notice. In addition to criminal penalties, those found responsible for starting wildfires may also face restitution costs of suppressing the fire.
The San Luis Valley Field Office is also in Stage 1 fire restrictions on Bureau of Land Management lands in six San Luis Valley counties. For more information about BLM Colorado Fire restrictions visit BLM Colorado Fire Restrictions.