Rain welcome, but impact minimal

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— It may seem low, but the National Weather Service has recorded less than an inch of rain in Steamboat Springs since Saturday morning.

Local officials were happy to see the precipitation, but it wasn't enough to offset an early dry summer. Dry-field hay production remains down and the fire danger remains high.

"It helps us, but it certainly has not put us out of drought or fire restriction conditions," said Routt County Emergency Management director Chuck Vale. "The long-term forecast still calls for dry conditions."

The Smokey the Bear fire danger signs still advertise the risk of fire as extremely high. With the weekend rains, Vale said it was possible the fire risk would be lowered to high.

"I don't have a problem saying it's very high so people are cautious with fire," Vale said.

Several measurements are taken to determine the risk of fire.

Despite ideal conditions for fires, Vale said there have yet to be any incidents in Routt County. "It seems like our message to the public has gotten out," he said.

On June 28, fire restrictions were enacted for all state, federal and county lands in Routt, Moffat, Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Larimer, Rio Blanco and Summit counties.

The ban, along with other restrictions, prohibits campfires except in designated campgrounds, picnic areas or developed recreational sites.

Vale said the ban typically is not lifted until around Labor Day when the area sees its first snows.

Routt County Extension Agent C.J. Mucklow said Tuesday the lack of moisture has caused non-irrigated hay production to be down 30 to 50 percent compared to last year. Irrigated hay field yields should be about average to slightly above average, Mucklow said.

The weekend rains will help pastures and yields for the second cut of alfalfa, but the rain appeared to be too little to late.

"If we would have gotten that kind of rain the first of June, we certainly would have had a boost in dry-land yields," Mucklow said.

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