Fire limits scaled back

Upper elevations back to normal; lower areas still under limits

Recent monsoon moisture has prompted federal land officials to lift fire restrictions at higher elevations and ease restrictions at lower elevations of the San Juan National Forest in Southwest Colorado.

Beginning today, the public can resume normal activities at higher elevations in Zone 2, but visitors are asked to remain cautious.

Stage 1 restrictions are in effect for lower elevations in Zone 1, which includes the corridor along U.S. Highway 550 from Durango to Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort.

The restrictions include the following limitations:

Building campfires is allowed only in permanent fire rings or grates within developed campgrounds.

Smoking is allowed only in vehicles, buildings or 3-foot-wide areas cleared of vegetation.

Using chain saws and other internal-combustion engines is allowed only with working spark arresters.

Using torches and explosives is prohibited.

The general boundary between Zone 1 and Zone 2 stretches east and west from Wolf Creek Pass to the Utah border along recognizable sites on the ground, such as trails, roads or wilderness boundaries in the forest.

A detailed map of the zones is expected to be available today at National Forest offices in Pagosa Springs, Bayfield, Durango, Dolores and Silverton or by visiting www.fs.usda.gov/sanjuan.

We realize that the different zones complicate matters, but they also give us the ability to lift restrictions at higher elevations because there is more moisture up there, while retaining restrictions at lower elevations where things are still dry, said Ann Bond, spokeswoman with the San Juan Public Lands Center.

The Bureau of Land Management and other adjacent national forests have not yet revised their restrictions.

Stage 2 fire restrictions remain in place for all unincorporated areas of La Plata County. The restrictions include a ban on campfires and open burning. Area fire chiefs will meet Monday to discuss easing the restrictions.

shane@durangoherald.com

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