Medicine Bow National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
2468 Jackson Street
Laramie, WY 82070
Stage II fire restrictions emphasized by Routt National Forest and Sulphur Ranger District; Forest closure would be next step
(STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.) October 19, 2020 – Unprecedented wildfire activity and unsafe Forest conditions have prompted an inter-agency law enforcement effort to address fire restriction violations across multiple counties in northwest Colorado.
There will be a coordinated effort in the coming days and weeks between the USDA Forest Service - Routt and Arapaho National Forests; Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, and Routt counties; and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to aggressively enforce Stage II fire restrictions.
The appropriate level of fire restrictions will be re-evaluated daily as conditions change, and if necessary, the next step would be implementing Stage III restrictions, which would temporarily close all National Forest System lands to public activity.
Stage II fire restrictions currently apply to all Routt National Forest-managed lands located in Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, and Routt counties in northwest Colorado, as well as the Sulphur Ranger District on the Arapaho National Forest.
The following conditions are currently being experienced in the impacted counties:
Extremely low fuel-moisture conditions
High occurrence of human-caused wildfires
Limited capacity for response to multiple wildfires
Persistent fire-danger weather conditions with no immediate relief forecast
“On-the-ground conditions are extreme and the current fire restrictions we have in place are not being respected,” said Russ Bacon, Forest Supervisor for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland. “This law enforcement saturation effort with our partners is a final effort to avoid closing the Forest.
“Our ultimate intent is to protect public health and safety, as well as natural resources. Restricting public access to the National Forest would be our very last resort and we are hopeful that is not necessary with this coordinated push toward fire restriction compliance.”
Big-game hunting seasons are underway, and hunters are reminded that all restrictions apply to all visitors and that all fires, included small warming fires are not allowed during Stage II fire restrictions.
Stage II fire restriction prohibitions can be found on both the Routt National Forest and Arapaho National Forest web sites. Restricted activities include the use of charcoal grills and barbecues, coal and wood burning stoves and sheepherder’s stoves and includes use in developed camping and picnic grounds. Wood burning stoves within wall tents are not exempted and are prohibited.
Violation of the fire restrictions is punishable as a class B misdemeanor, carrying a possible fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, imprisonment of not more than six months, or both. Anyone negligently or willfully starting a wildland fire could also be held responsible for the costs of that fire.
The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland entered Stage II fire restrictions on Aug. 20, 2020, after being at the Stage I level since July 3. The Sulphur Ranger District has been in Stage II restrictions since Oct. 8.
Both the Medicine Bow National Forest and Thunder Basin National Grassland in Wyoming remain in Stage II fire restrictions. Critical fire danger conditions still exist on many portions of those units.
Forest visitors should be aware of area closures that are in place for multiple extended-duration wildfires in the area.
Additional information may be found on our website or you can follow the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland on Twitter, @FS_MBRTB.