Extreme drought conditions have forced government agencies to put in place restrictions to prevent wildfire threats. Fire restrictions are governed by a set of 10 criteria consisting of weather, fuel conditions and available firefighting resources.
There are three stages of restrictions. Each restriction remains in effect if higher stages are enacted.
Here are restrictions that are in place and where.
Stage 1In place in La Plata County, Southern Ute land and Bureau of Land Management lands in Tres Rios District.
No campfires outside designated fire grates in developed campgrounds.No fires of any type are allowed outside of developed areas.No smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building.No use of explosive materials, including explosive targets.No welding except in areas cleared of vegetation.No use of internal combustion engines without working spark arresters.Stage 2 In place in La Plata County, Southern Ute land and Bureau of Land Management lands in Tres Rios District.
No campfires, including in developed campgrounds and recreation areas. No charcoal or coal barbecues or wood-burning stoves. Gas, pressurized cannister powered stoves with shut-off valves are allowed if they are at least 3 feet away from flammable material such as grass. No open burning, burn barrels or agricultural burns without prior approval. No smoking, except for in a building or vehicle. La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith said people will be ticketed for throwing cigarette butts out their car window.No welding, use of open-flame torches, pipe-fitting or metal grinding without a fire-watch official present with proper mitigation tools. Oil and gas welding and cutting operations can be done only in an area with a radius of at least 20 feet from all flammable materials. No use of equipment with an internal combustion engine without a properly installed spark-arresting device, including chain saws, ATVs and generators. No use of chain saws without a spark-arresting device and a readily accessible fire extinguisher and shovel. No explosives such as fireworks and tracer-round bullets. Note that agencies such as the Forest Service may have different restrictions.In the San Juan National Forest:
No traveling off marked roads, trails and parking areas in cars or off-road vehicles.Discharging a firearm, air rifle or gas gun is prohibited on all land in the San Juan National Forest.Stage 3La Plata County restrictions include:Indoor fire places and wood-burning stoves without an approved interior and exterior chimney spark-arrestor are banned.No sale, discharge or use of any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device (including Fourth of July celebrations).No floating sky lanterns, fire balloons or acetylene balloons.No discharge of firearms or the use of exploding targets, unless under the circumstances described in the Colorado Revised Statues, 30-15-302.No blasting in development areas or construction areas.No use of an explosive, blasting caps, or any other incendiary device, including the use of any model rockets.No flaring for oil and gas production wells.No operation of coal-fired steam engines.Certain exemptions apply to these prohibitions. They include:
Any federal, state or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.Flaring at centralized processing and compressing facilities is permitted so long as all conditions and requirements issued by applicable regulators are satisfied.Emergency repair of public utilities.Those agricultural producers exempt from fire bans pursuant to CRS 30-15-401(n.5)(III) and 35-28-104(11) may perform agricultural burning only with 48 hours prior notification to the appropriate fire chief or the sheriff.
San Juan National Forest:Entry into the San Juan National Forest is prohibited, including entry by the general public, most administrative entry by Forest Service employees and most uses authorized under Forest Service permits and contracts. Closures include forest campgrounds, day-use areas, roads and trails, including wilderness areas.No hiking, dispersed camping and other recreational activities are allowed.Exemptions might be granted on a case-by-case basis with a written authorization from the Forest Service, which would include specific requirements for fire prevention. Exemptions must be requested from the appropriate district ranger. Federal, state or local officers conducting specific duties are exempt.
The McPhee Recreation Area Complex boat ramp and marina will likely remain open but no shoreline use will be allowed.
Violating Stage 3 fire restrictions or going into a closed area carries a mandatory appearance in federal court, and is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.
Restrictions in Durango city limitsNo fires of any kind or the burning of any material of any kind on public or private property within the city, including all outdoor charcoal or wood grills. But use of propane grills on private property is allowed.Also, no smoking in or on all city-owned, operated or managed property, including but not limited to all parks, recreation areas, open space, natural lands, reservoirs, Animas River corridor, Animas River access points, the Animas River Trail and all other trails within the city limit.