Forest Service institutes Stage 1 fire ban; county, BLM expected to follow suit
Stage 1 fire restrictions will go into effect Wednesday morning for all U.S. Forest Service land in Routt County, part of a coordinated effort among several agencies to put bans in place across Northwest Colorado.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners are having an emergency meeting Wednesday morning when they are expected to make the same move, and the Bureau of Land Management is expected to announce a fire ban for the land it controls as well.
“The preference is that all of the agencies … agree to do it at the same time,” Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan said. “It is not ideal to have (the county) go into a fire ban but have the Forest Service not.”
The ban prohibits building, using or maintaining any type of fire, including barbecues and grills. It also restricts other hazardous activities, like smoking in certain areas, operating a chainsaw without additional safety features installed and welding or operating a torch. Use of explosives like fireworks are also banned.
The bans extend far beyond the county line though, as the Forest Service ban includes the entire Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest and Thunder Basin National Grassland, encompassing six counties in Colorado and nine in Wyoming.
The forest has already seen a fire this year, with the North Fork Fire that started burning just 2 miles north of Routt County earlier this month.
Temperatures are record-high in Steamboat this week, including Tuesday’s high of 92. Weather later in the week could lead to dry lighting, which is a frequent cause of wildfires. This comes from thunderstorms that have enough moisture to form but not enough to actually rain.
“Even a month ago, we started receiving emails from constituents asking to institute a fire ban,” Corrigan said, adding that, in the past, similar bans received pushback. “My expectation is this time, there will be very few naysayers.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a winter storm warning for much of the West Slope ahead of a major weather system expected in the area starting Thursday.