By Avery Martinez
Campfires, open burning, burn barrels, smoking, fireworks and agricultural burning in open areas have all been restricted across the county by the stage one fire ban as of Tuesday.
“In the annual operating plan there’s a set of 10 criteria we look to meet [to go into a fire ban]… to go into a stage one, we require a minimum of four; we are currently at six,” Mike Le Roux, the Archuleta County emergency operation director, said Tuesday.
Le Roux explained that, given the current conditions, a county-wide ban was needed.
Le Roux noted that at any time the county may reach stage two criteria.
The stage one ban was implemented on Tuesday by a vote from the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) at its regular meeting.
The ban was presented to the BoCC by Le Roux, who explained that Montezuma County, Dolores County, La Plata County, the U.S. Forest Service, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe (SUIT) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) were all implementing a ban.
Mineral and Hinsdale Counties would be joining the ban in sympathy with Archuleta County, Le Roux noted.
At the work session, Le Roux also explained that, currently, the Pagosa Springs Fourth of July fireworks show would be permitted with written consent of the sheriff under stage one restrictions.
More information on each set of fire restrictions are listed below.
Archuleta County has established a fire ban which prohibits open burning, burn barrels and agricultural burning.
Specific restrictions prohibit:
• Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, coal- or wood-burning stove, any charcoal-fueled boiler or any type of fire in undeveloped areas.
This restriction does not include camp stoves, grills or lights fueled by bottled gas, liquid fuel or specifically designed for cooking or illumination. The restriction does not apply to charcoal fires in barbecues, gas grills in private residences or in designated campground pits with protective grates.
• Smoking, except in a vehicle or building, in a developed recreation site, or 3 feet from flammable vegetation.
• Explosive materials such as fireworks or blasting caps.
• Agricultural burning of any cropland, fields, rangeland, debris burning, slash piles, prescribed burning and weed burning.
• Operating or using any internal combustion engine, unless it is equipped with a working spark arrester.
The county ban will remain in effect until amended or rescinded by the Archuleta County sheriff or the BoCC.
Stage one restrictions for the Southern Ute tribal lands for the general pubic prohibit:
• Open burning of trash and/or yard waste.
• Agricultural burning of cropland, fields, rangeland, debris burning, slash piles, prescribed burning and weed burning.
• Fireworks, the possession, discharging or use of any type of firework.
Southern Ute tribal land restrictions for commercial operators include:
• All prohibited acts for the general public.
• Gasoline-fueled engines must be shut down during fueling operations if the fuel tank is integral to the engine.
• Firefighting equipment must be readily available for all operations. During operations a 20-pound fire extinguisher must be immediately accessible. For operations in areas where a minor fire might develop, a person must be designated to fire watch. The area of work must be inspected at least one hour after hot work is completed.
• Portable fire extinguishers must be tagged showing last date of inspection, maintenance or recharge.
If a stage two ban was implemented on Southern Ute tribal lands, all restrictions from stage one would remain in effect and, in addition, prohibiting camp fires outside of designated or developed campsites, smoking in non-designated areas and operation of internal combustion engines (i.e. chain saws and generators) without a spark-arresting device properly installed.
Stage one fire restrictions on public land managed by the BLM prohibit building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or stove fire.
Also, any smoking, except in a vehicle or building, a designated recreation site or in an area 3 feet from any flammable material.
Further, fireworks, flares or other forms of incendiary devices, such as exploding targets, are always prohibited on federal lands.
Noted by the BLM in a news release, exceptions to these restrictions are given to, “ … holders of valid BLM permits, leases and authorizations are allowed to conduct approved activities, but are advised to take extra precautions to prevent fire starts.”
The BLM added that the restrictions will continually be monitored, and will be modified as needed.
Federal fire bans are separated into three stages. Stage one contains the restrictions listed above. Stage two fire restrictions includes all stage one restrictions, prohibits welding, chain saws and building, maintaining, using or attending a fire, campfire or even a stove fire.
The restrictions on fires extend to designated fire pits in camp or picnic grounds.
Stage three restrictions prohibit all forms of burning.
For more information on BLM restrictions, visit https://gacc.nifc.gov/rmcc/dispatch_centers/r2drc/RESTRICTIONS.HTML.
Stage one fire restrictions are now in effect on all National Forest System lands in the San Juan National Forest, including the wilderness.
The fire ban prohibits:
• Campfires in Forest Service-provided fire grates and grills in Forest Service-developed camp and picnic grounds.
• Petroleum-fueled stoves and lanterns that use gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel.
• Fully enclosed stoves with a one-quarter spark arrester.
• Smoking, unless in a car or building, 3 feet from anything flammable, or in a designated recreation area.
• Chain saws without Forest Service, USDA or SAE approval. Operators of chain saws must have a fire extinguisher and shovel. The extinguisher must be rated at minimum 2A and the shovel at least 35 inches.
• Welding or other torches, unless in a clear area of 10 feet and with a 2A-rated fire extinguisher.
• Fireworks, tracer bullets, explosives and exploding targets.
For more information, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sanjuan/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD578183.
By Avery Martinez