County downgrades fire restrictions to Stage 1


Town to consider removing

restrictions today

By Avery Martinez

Staff Writer

Fire restrictions are currently at Stage 1 in unincorporated Archuleta County as of Tuesday.

The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) approved the lowering of the county-wide fire ban to Stage 1 at its regular meeting on July 17.

Mike Le Roux, Archuleta County’s manager of emergency operations, explained to the BoCC that, as of the morning of July 13, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) had rescinded its fire ban for the San Juan National Forest completely.

“The San Juan National Forest is lifting all fire restrictions on Forest Service Land,” a USFS press release from July 12 states.

Further, according to Le Roux, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe (SUIT) has lowered its fire restrictions to Stage 1.

“In the past we have typically followed the with their fire restrictions, only because they relate to a drier area of our county,” Le Roux said.

Le Roux explained that probably by the end of the week the SUIT would drop its ban completely.

Le Roux explained that before the county can drop the restrictions, it must be below the minimum requirements for seven days.

Currently, Le Roux explained, the county has about five days below requirements.

The recent rain, Le Roux explained, had helped with fire conditions.

Le Roux asked the BoCC to lower fire restrictions to Stage 1 on Tuesday and “have the option” later in the week to rescind all fire restrictions without necessity of a public meeting.

BoCC Chair Steve Wadley mentioned that Archuleta County Sheriff Rich Valdez had the authority to amend fire restrictions.

The BoCC unanimously approved a motion to amend fire restrictions to Stage 1 and added the sheriff had the ability to amend the restrictions hereafter.

Elsewhere in the region, as of Wednesday, fire restrictions had been removed for all lands managed by the Rio Grande National Forest, Bureau of Land Management San Luis Valley Field Office and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

However, as of Thursday morning, the Town of Pagosa Springs remains under Stage 2 fire restrictions.

The possible removal of the town’s fire restrictions are part of the agenda for this evening’s meeting of the Pagosa Springs Town Council, which is set to begin at 5 p.m. at Town Hall, 551 Hot Springs Blvd.

Stage 1 fire restrictions

Archuleta County is currently in a Stage 1 fire ban, which prohibits open burning, burn barrels and agricultural burning.

Specific restrictions prohibit:

• Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, coal- or wood-burning stove, any charcoal-fueled boiler or any type of fire in undeveloped areas.

This restriction does not include camp stoves, grills or lights fueled by bottled gas, liquid fuel or specifically designed for cooking or illumination. The restriction does not apply to charcoal fires in barbecues, gas grills in private residences or in designated campground pits with protective grates.

• Smoking, except in a vehicle or building, in a developed recreation site, or 3 feet from flammable vegetation.

• Explosive materials such as fireworks or blasting caps.

• Agricultural burning of any cropland, fields, rangeland, debris burning, slash piles, prescribed burning and weed burning.

• Operating or using any internal combustion engine, unless it is equipped with a working spark arrester.

The county ban will remain in effect until amended or rescinded by the sheriff or the BoCC.