Officials to decide fire ban's fate

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— Fire restrictions on federal land in Colorado will remain in place through the Labor Day weekend unless Forest Service personnel decide today to lift them, local Forest Service spokeswoman Denise Germann said.
Currently, fires are allowed only in Rocky Mountain National Park and the Great Sand Dunes National Monument.
"Some folks across the region have allowed campfires in developed sites where there's a campground host located," Germann said.
A developed recreational site is one that is built and maintained by either forest or county officials, such as those at Steamboat Lake, Pearl Lake and Stagecoach. Fully enclosed stoves or grills using pressurized liquid or gas are acceptable containers for fires.
Whether those few options will be expanded depends on a number of variables.
"We're looking at our conditions in light of the rain," Germann said. "The other thing we're looking at is our resources."
Many of the area's firefighters have been sent elsewhere in the nation, to places where fires have raged out of control for months now.
"Most of our employees assist in firefighting efforts throughout the country wherever they are needed," Germann said.
The Forest Service's fire ban was instituted on June 19 and was followed two days later by a countywide ban on fires on all private and state land outside the Steamboat Springs city limits. The countywide ban is still in place as well.
A letter sent to Forest Service officials on Tuesday by the National Fire Prevention and Education Team in Lakewood indicated that fire restrictions are likely to remain in place through at least the Labor Day weekend. Prevention team spokesman David Olsen asserted, however, that the Forest Service has enough resources to fight a newly started fire.
"Our concern is if a new fire got any worse, there might be some difficulty in having as many resources as one might like to have," he said.
The final decision on whether or not fires will be allowed on national forest land will be made today by Jerry Schmidt, the supervisor for the Forest Service in the Routt/Medicine Bow National Forest.


To reach Avi Salzman call 871-4203 or e-mail asalzman@amigo.net

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