Routt board lifts fire ban

Decision applies only to private land, not public

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— The Routt County Board of Commissioners agreed Thursday to lift the fire ban on all private areas in the county.

The ban, which had been in effect since June 28, had included campfires and trash, brush or debris fires as well as restrictions on chainsaw use and welding.

Chuck Vale, the county's emergency management director, told members of the board that it was his recommendation along with the Bureau of Land Management, Sheriff's Office and Steamboat Springs Fire Department that the restriction be removed.

Vale said every Tuesday he meets with other counties and the BLM to discuss fire restrictions in the area and decide whether a ban should be instituted. The BLM looks at seven different tests to determine how high the fire danger is. Last week, conditions were right at the fire ban line, and this week, Vale said, Routt County passed all of the tests and was considered below the line that would garner a fire ban.

"I'd be comfortable with lifting (the fire ban)," Commissioner Doug Monger said. "Especially with none of the criteria met for a fire ban."

Kent Foster, Routt National Forest supervising forester, said the exclusion of the fire ban had nothing to do with the end of the Rainbow Family of Living Light gathering.

"It was purely due to the rain and changing season," he said.

The removal of the fire ban will take place immediately on all private lands in Routt County. Vale said most counties in Colorado are removing their fire restrictions. The only counties that are keeping the fire ban are Eagle, Summit and Larimer Counties, he said.

Although all private land in Routt County is fire-ban free, Gov. Bill Owens has extended restriction to all government-owned property until Aug. 19.

To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com.

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