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Burn ban goes into effect on reservation

Caution urged ahead of Fourth of July holiday

Burn ban restrictions are in effect for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Reservation.

The ban, which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning, is expected to continue until the dry conditions improve. The U.S. Forest Service and the Durango Fire Protection District have not issued any restrictions, but officials are urging residents to take precautions ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

The Southern Ute restrictions apply to residents, businesses and industrial oil and natural-gas operators on reservation land.

Open burning of trash and yard waste is restricted. So is burning of crop land, fields, rangeland, debris burning, slash piles, prescribed burning and weed burning.

Building camp fires outside of official camp sites is banned, although charcoal fires for barbecues or fires for sweat ceremonies are allowed if they are watched and fully extinguished afterward. Possessing and using any type of fireworks is not allowed.

“Due to the current high temperatures, dry fuel conditions and the occurrence of recent wildland fires, Stage I fire restrictions have been implemented for all trust lands throughout the Southern Ute Indian Reservation,” a news release said. “Everyone on reservation land is asked to be very cautious and use common sense with fire this time of year.”

Ann Bond, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman for the San Juan National Forest, said the agency hasn’t made a decision yet on whether to issue a ban ahead of the holiday, but officials are talking with other federal, state and local agencies and watching conditions.

“Although we’re not ready right now to put any type of fire restrictions in place on the San Juan National Forest, that does not mean that people don’t need to be safe,” she said. “People need to be very careful with fire because there are some lower-elevation locations that are drying out more than the higher elevations.”

The Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch Center reports that fire danger is moderate on public lands in Southwest Colorado, according to the Forest Service. The dispatch center currently rates La Plata County’s fire danger as high.

For further information on commercial and industrial fire restrictions on the reservation, contact the Bureau of Indian Affairs Fire Office at (970) 563-4571.


San Juan Forest fire safety tips

Check fire conditions before you visit an area, and observe any restrictions that may be in effect. Call or visit the nearest U.S. Forest Service office to find out if the fire danger is low, moderate, high or extreme.

Clear the area around campfires. Remove all vegetation and debris from within 10 feet before you start a fire.

Make sure you have a bucket of water, shovel and other implements nearby in case your campfire starts to get out of control.

Make sure campfires are completely out before leaving. Stir water and dirt into the coals with a shovel or stick until the coals are cool to the touch.

Extinguish smoking materials only in cleared areas free of vegetation or debris. Never toss cigarette butts out the car window.

Don’t park cars or recreational vehicles on dry vegetation. Exhaust systems can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees – hot enough to start a wildfire during the summer.

Use an approved spark arrester on off-road vehicles and chain saws. The screen between the exhaust port of the piston and muffler helps ensure that sparks generated won’t start wildfires. Check and replace spark arresters periodically.

Remember that fireworks are illegal on National Forest land. The penalty for violators is a maximum of six months in prison and/or $5,000 fine. Anyone responsible for starting a wildfire may also be held responsible for the cost of putting it out and for damage caused.

Source: U.S. Forest Service

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