Forest Service decides to reopen some closed land |

Forest Service decides to reopen some closed land

— Hikers can soon return to forest areas burned in the Mount Zirkel Complex.

The U.S. Forest Service announced closures in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness will be lifted Saturday morning.

“It’s safe enough to be opened,” said Diann Pipher, Forest Service spokeswoman.

Much of the wilderness was closed to the public in July in response to the 31,000-acre Burn Ridge and Hinman fires.

Forest Service officials were wary about lifting the ban too soon. Snags, or trees with burned-out roots that could topple easily in any sort of wind, are prevalent in the closure areas and the fire, though contained, is still burning.

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Crews have removed snags along trails and roads, but visitors are urged to use caution when traveling off trails and roads.

“People still need to be very careful when traveling in burned areas,” said Kim Vogel, Hahn’s Peak/Bears Ears District ranger. “There are unstable trees that could fall, so always be on the lookout.”

Some closures in the Hahn’s Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District are still in effect. They include the area east of the North Fork of the Elk River, west of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness boundary, north of Gilpin Creek Trail 1161 and north of Seedhouse Road (Forest Road 400). People can get more information at 879-1870.

Closures still in effect for the Parks Ranger District begin at the junction of the Routt National Forest boundary and Forest Road 640, run west to Trail 1129 and follow a line to the northwest on the rim above Lake Katherine to the Continental Divide at the junction with Trail 1101; continue south on Trail 1101, east through Spike Lake to the forest boundary on County Road 20 and north along the forest boundary to the junction of Forest Road 640 and the forest boundary. People can get more information at (970) 724-3000.

All fire-related closures in the Flat Tops Wilderness have been lifted. Fire restrictions remain in effect on the Routt National Forest until further notice.

“We want people to have access to their national forest,” Pipher said. “We look at the closures very carefully. As soon as it’s safe, we want to (lift the closures).”

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