Unincorporated Montrose County are reverting to Stage I fire restrictions starting at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning. As well, the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, City of Ouray and Ouray County are implementing the same level of restrictions.

Seasonal high temperatures, major fires statewide and worsening dry conditions played into the decision for Montrose County.

“We are in a severe drought and measures need to be taken to keep our public lands and community safe," said Sheriff Gene Lillard.

"Resources are limited due to major wildfires across the state, and we do not want to place a burden on an already taxed system. This is the smart and responsible thing to do for our community. We are continuing to work closely with federal land partners and adjoining counties to monitor conditions. We appreciate the public's help in taking measures to prevent wildfires in our area."

The county restrictions apply to areas of Montrose County that have not been incorporated as municipalities. They do not apply within the city of Montrose, or the towns of Olathe, Nucla and Naturita.

The Stage I fire restrictions do not allow open burning of any kind to include agricultural burning, open campfires, and fireworks.

Smoking cigarettes outdoors is not allowed, unless in an enclosed vehicle or building or in a developed recreation site. Campfires in a pre-approved campground, state park/KOA, or enclosed fire pits are permitted. As a reminder, fireworks on publicly managed lands are prohibited.

Violating the fire ban is a class-2 petty offense that carries fines of up to $500. Fires that cause damage to other people’s property can result in arson charges.

For the GMUG, Stage I fire restrictions are based on specific fuel moisture measurements in vegetation and other risk factors such as predicted weather and amount of current fire activity. Fire danger is increasing, and these restrictions will be implemented to protect public health and safety due to the current and anticipated elevated risk of wildfire. Fire restrictions on these lands will be placed until further notice.

Under the restrictions, the following are prohibited:

Fires, campfires, or stove fires, including, but not limited to, charcoal grills, hibachis, and coal or wood-burning stoves.

Exceptions: Campfires in Forest Service-provided, manufactured fire grates and grills within Forest Service developed campgrounds and picnic grounds; petroleum fueled stoves or lanterns that use gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel; fully enclosed (sheepherder type) stove with a quarter-inch spark arrester type screen.

Also barred:

• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or in a developed recreation site, or while stopping in an area at least 3-feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

• Chainsaws without a Forest Service or SAE approved spark arrester. Operators must be in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A and a round-pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches.

• Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame, except in cleared areas of at least 10-feet in diameter and in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A.

• Explosives, including fireworks, tracer bullets, and exploding targets.

The City of Ouray and Ouray County have also reimplemented Stage I fire restrictions that are the same as the GMUG’s.

For more information on fire restrictions, wildfires and prescribed burns on National Forest System lands, call 970-874-6602 or visit http://bit.ly/GMUGFireRestrictions.

For more fire-related information on Colorado’s Western Slope, visit:

For up-to-date general information on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests please contact the appropriate office:

• Forest Supervisor’s Office, 970-874-6600

• Grand Valley Ranger District, 970-242-8211

• Ouray Ranger District, 970-240-5300

• Gunnison Ranger District, 970-641-0471

• Norwood Ranger District, 970-327-4261

• Paonia Ranger District, 970-527-4131.

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