Browns Park bans fires

No restrictions yet in rest of Moffat County

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Although Northwest Colorado is not as dry as most of the state, Bureau of Land Management officials are still warning campers to be careful with fire over Memorial Day Weekend.

Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge has banned all fires due to the dry conditions.

Fire restrictions have not been placed on public land anywhere else in Moffat County, but people need to be careful, said Lynn Barclay, fire mitigation education specialist with the Bureau of Land Management.

Three years of dry conditions is beginning to take a toll, she said.

"We have a cumulative effect of moisture levels not being replenished," she said.

"We have better conditions than any place else in the state but the drought conditions are still there. We don't want people to let their guard down."

Even if it were to rain before or during the weekend, the fire danger would still be high, Barclay said.

"People should not get too reassured by a little rain," she said. "The rain we had last week was immediately pulled out of the ground by the high wind that followed."

Although fire bans are only in place at Browns Park, other areas in Moffat County are close to conditions that are dry enough to justify banning fire.

"The lower elevations are most at risk to wildland fires," said Charley Martin, fire ecologist with the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center. "And Northwest Colorado may be approaching the threshold that signals the need for restrictions without some precipitation."

People planning to camp at Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge need to remember fires are banned, according to an advisory released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The advisement includes:

Only stoves using pressurized liquid or gas at Crook and Swinging Bridge campgrounds are permissible.

Operation of any internal or external combustion engine without a spark-arresting device is not allowed.

People should only smoke in an enclosed vehicle or where there is a large patch of bare ground.

For questions about park restrictions, people can call the Browns Park Wildlife Refuge at

(970) 365-3613. For other public land in Moffat County where fires have not been banned, people should remember to:

Clear an area of brush and grass 10 feet around campfires.

Drown campfires with water, cover with dirt and ensure all fires are "dead out" before leaving them unattended.

Extinguish smoking materials properly. Hold matches until cold.

Remember the use of fireworks is illegal on public lands.

Use approved spark arresters on chainsaws, ATVs and other internal combustion powered equipment.

Barclay said people planning to travel to other parts of the state should remember that drought conditions are worse in most other areas.

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