By Ann Bond
Special to The SUN
In coordination with the BLM Tres Rios Field Office, Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Indian tribes, Mesa Verde National Park and La Plata, Archuleta and Montezuma counties, fire restrictions will go into effect for portions of the San Juan National Forest on Wednesday, June 19.
Fire managers believe the restrictions are necessary due to continued high temperatures, low humidity, high winds and dry fuels.
Stage One restrictions are in effect for lower- to middle-elevation portions of the San Juan National Forest, as follows:
• campfires are limited to permanent fire rings or grates within developed campgrounds;
• smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, or 3-foot wide areas cleared of vegetation;
• acetylene and other torches with an open flame are prohibited;
• the use of explosives is prohibited.
The restriction line bisects the national forest from east to west, following identifiable jurisdictional boundaries, roads and trails at approximately 8,500 feet, with only those areas south of the line covered by the above mandatory fire restrictions. These lower- to middle-elevations are dangerously dry, while upper elevations remain green, often with patches of snow and running water. The specific boundaries for the Stage 1 fire restrictions are displayed on the attached maps of the east and west sides of the San Juan National Forest.
Additional firefighting resources have been prepositioned in the area as a precaution, including wild land firefighting crews, engines and air support. Fire managers highly recommend the additional safety tips, even for areas not yet under restrictions:
• Dispose of cigarette butts in an ashtray or other appropriate container.
• Make sure chainsaws and other internal-combustion engines have approved, working spark arresters. Carry water, a shovel and fire extinguisher with you and operate within areas clear of flammable materials.
• Park vehicles in areas clear of vegetation.
• In higher-elevation areas where campfires are allowed, use established fire rings in areas clear of vegetation. Have a shovel and water handy, and put campfires out completely every time you leave camp. Pour water on the ashes and stir until there is no smoke and ashes are cool to the touch.
• Remember that fireworks are never allowed on federal lands, even when restrictions are not in place.
More information, including maps of the specific boundaries area, will be available tomorrow at San Juan National Forest offices and on the web at http://www.fs.usda.gov/sanjuan/.