County, Southern Ute and Forest Service enter stage 1 fire restrictions

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    By Clayton Chaney
    Staff Writer

    Archuleta County, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the San Juan National Forest (SJNF) entered into stage 1 fire restrictions Wednesday.

    The restrictions do not apply to the Town of Pagosa Springs. 

    Town Manager Andrea Phillips explained in an interview Tuesday that the town will typically follow suit with what the county does. 

    She mentioned that the Pagosa Springs Town Council may amend its agenda for its regular meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 17, to include the consideration of enacting fire restrictions. 

    At a regular meeting held by the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) on June 15, the board voted unanimously to approve Resolution 2021-43, which moved the county into stage 1 fire restrictions.

    According to the resolution, the stage 1 fire restrictions went into effect at midnight (12 a.m.) on Wednesday, June 16.

    According to a press release from Director of Emergency Operations Mike Le Roux, regardless of the location, prohibited fires include:

    • Pile burning.

    • Agricultural burning.

    • Use of explosive materials, tracer rounds and burning fuse line.

    • Fireworks of any kind.

    • Permitted burns.

    The press release also notes that outside of developed areas, campfires, coal- or wood-burning stoves, any type of charcoal grill and any open fires are prohibited.

    Fires that are allowed include:

    • Charcoal fires in suitable containers.

    • Gas grills for barbecues at private residences.

    • Camp stoves, grills or lights fueled by bottled gas, chimineas, or portable outdoor fireplaces.

    • Recreational fires in a developed park, campground, private residence, or picnic area (2 feet wide by 2 feet long by 2 feet high, protected by a permanent fire ring structure and covered by a steel grate). This includes fires in barrels and drums; fixed, permanent outdoor fireplaces; and barbecue pit fires.

    Smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, developed recreational areas, or 6-foot-wide areas clear of vegetation.

    Internal combustion engines used in chain saws or generators must have approved spark arresters.

    Cutting and welding operations must have fire hand tools and 40 pounds worth of fire extinguishers or a pressurized water supply immediately available.

    Flaring for production of oil and gas wells is allowed, but a contact must be made to dispatch, (970) 731-2160. 

    At a work session held earlier in the day on Tuesday, Archuleta County Undersheriff Derek Woodman explained that the town would still be permitted to hold its Fourth of July firework display under the stage 1 fire restrictions.

    Southern Ute Indian Tribe

    According to a press release from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), restrictions on the Southern Ute Reservation became effective at 6 a.m. on Wednesday June 16, and “will remain until conditions improve.” 

    The press release notes that stage 1 restrictions have been implemented due to current dry fuel conditions and high temperatures. 

    “Stage I fire restrictions have been implemented for all trust lands throughout the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. Everyone on reservation land is asked to be very cautious and use common sense with fire this time of year,” the press release states.

    The stage 1 restrictions prohibit acts for the general public, commercial operators and industrial oil and gas operators performing work on the Southern Ute Reservation.

    Open burning, which includes burning of trash or yard waste, is prohibited. Agricultural burning is also prohibited.

    Possession, discharging or use of any type of fireworks is prohibited as well.

    “Building, maintaining or using a warming fire or campfire outside of officially designated or developed camp sites is prohibited,” the press release states.

    The fire restrictions do not include charcoal fires used for barbecues or fires for sweat ceremonies. However, “such fires are not to be left unattended and are to be fully extinguished after use,” the press release states.

    Commercial and industrial restrictions can be obtained from the BIA Fire Office at 575 County Road 517 or by calling (970) 563-4571.

    San Juan National Forest

    According to a press release from Forest Service Public Affairs Specialist Lorena Williams, the SJNF entered into its stage 1 fire restrictions beginning June 16.

    The SJNF fire restrictions align with the county’s guidelines in regard to campfires, smoking and chain saws.

    Williams’ press release notes that “The fine for violating campfire restrictions in Stage I has been raised to $500 in Colorado.”

    clayton@pagosasun.com