County implements fire restrictions

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— Countywide fire restrictions went into effect at 8 a.m. today on all private, state and federal land outside Steamboat Springs city limits.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to institute fire restrictions that cover private and state-owned lands.
On Monday, the U.S. Forest Service said it would issue similar restrictions on fires on Forest Service land in northwestern Colorado. The federal restrictions began today along with the county limits.
Officials said recent rains in the valley have not appreciably reduced the fire danger.
"We're in a serious situation right now," County Commis-sioner Nancy Stahoviak said. "It continues to be dry and the moisture we've received is not enough to keep us out of wildfire danger."
A fire restriction is not a ban on all fires, but it does limit them to certain areas, she said.
The current fire restriction means that campfires, warming fires and charcoal grills can only be set in grated fire pits in "developed recreational sites."
A developed recreational site is one that is built and maintained by either forest or county officials, such as those that are found at Steamboat Lake, Pearl Lake and Stagecoach, Forest Service spokeswoman Denise Germann said.
It does not mean setting up camp in the backcountry where it looks like people have been, she said.
Fully enclosed stoves or grills, and stoves using pressurized liquid or gas, are acceptable containers for fires. Those types of stoves include backpacking propane stoves and Webber or Hibachi grills, Germann said.
Even with the restrictions, Stahoviak believes that people still will visit Routt County this summer to go camping and enjoy the outdoors.
Routt County is one of many counties in Colorado that have fire restrictions in place, so most people will expect them, she said.
"Most people these days camp in trailers anyway, and they can still have fires in permanently grated fire pits," she said.
Besides affecting camping procedures, the fire restrictions also affect certain agricultural burning activities.
Fires are not allowed for burning trash, debris, fence rows or vegetation on their property, without a permit from a federal official or the Routt County sheriff's department.
People who violate the fire restrictions can be fined $100 for a first offense.

To reach Larissa Keever call 871-4229 or e-mail lkeever@amigo.net

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