April 24, 2013
Contact: David Boyd, Public Information Officer (970) 876-9008
Prescribed fire planned Friday for Palisade Watershed
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Federal fire officials from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit anticipate conditions will be ideal Friday to ignite a 646-acre prescribed fire designed to improve environmental conditions in the Town of Palisade Watershed.
Smoke will be very visible on the slopes of the Grand Mesa from Grand Valley, Plateau Valley and I-70. The fire will be about seven miles southeast of the Town of Palisade.
“We will only ignite this prescribed fire if conditions are ideal for a safe, effective burn, as well as for good smoke dispersal away from area communities,” said Lathan Johnson, Fuels Specialist for the BLM Grand Junction Field Office. “We will make the final call Friday morning after reviewing the weather and vegetation moisture. Smoke should be visible by late morning and last until late afternoon.”
Twitter updates for the Palisade Watershed Prescribed Fire #palisadeburn will be available by following @ucrfirecenter. An information line will be staffed at 970 456-3623.
Fire officials ask the public to stay clear of this area during the burn, both for their own safety and that of firefighters.
The burn is the result of an agreement among the BLM, the Town of Palisade and City of Grand Junction. A large amount of debris and other fuel for wildfires has built-up in this area because there hasn’t been a wildfire in a number of years. This prescribed burn will decrease that fuel load, helping reduce the risk of a much larger wildfire. A prescribed fire will burn much less intensely than a wildfire, but it will still be effective at reducing fuel loads in the area. The planned burn will also improve wildlife habitat by stimulating new, more nutritious plant production in the burned area.
“The 2009 Palisade Watershed Fire Mitigation Plan identifies this area as needing treatment to reduce the chance of a large, intense wildfire that could severely impact the watershed,” said Frank Watt, Public Works Director for the Town of Palisade.
The prescribed fire is planned in oak brush and other shrubs on 588 acres owned by the Town of Palisade and 58 acres of BLM. A detailed prescribed fire plan has been developed, and appropriate smoke permits have been obtained from the State of Colorado.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Grand Junction, Colo. ( Oct. 17, 2012 ) – A fire season that started in late March on the forest, first with the Montezuma Fire in Summit County, doesn’t seem to have an end. But these late Fall fires are not due to lightning as most fires are on the unit during the summer months. They are entirely due to human carelessness.
The Lily Pad Fire on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District was reported yesterday and was limited to two spruce trees. It began near Lily Pad Lake up the Frying Pan Drainage some nine miles southeast of Thomasville. “Someone built a fire ring on top of thick duff which ended up burning down about two feet through the needles,” said Josh Graham, Assistant Fire Management Officer for the Central Zone of the Upper Colorado Interagency Fire Management Unit. “After the rock ring collapsed inward the fire spread onto the Spruce Fir it was built under. What were they thinking?”
The 10 acre South Falls Fire was also reported yesterday and is located on the Blanco Ranger District in the Flat Tops Wilderness some 2 miles west of Budges Resort on the South Fork of the White River and 18 miles due north of Glenwood Springs. As of noon today it is 70% contained. It is burning near heavy spruce-fir and with high winds could have easily resulted in a 200 acre fire.
District Ranger Ken Coffin urged hunters using the forest to be extra careful with their fires. “Make sure you build a fire in a safe place by clearing the whole area of all vegetation even up to two feet outside the fire ring. And hunters please make sure your fire is dead out. This means all remaining ashes should be cold to the touch whenever you leave camp.”
The 257 acre Middle Elk Fire near Hiner Springs some 30 miles north of New Castle was also human caused. That area was closed to all entry until yesterday. That closure was lifted by special order of Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. Fitzwilliams said, “People who abandon their campfires are subject to a $5,000 fine. And if it escapes and starts a wildfire they can count on paying the full cost of suppression. In the case of the Middle Elk Fire that figure is close to half a million dollars.”
Last week’s Red Cliff Fire on the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District was within a mile of the town of Redcliff. It too was human caused.
ASPEN, CO – 8/30/12 – The Pitkin County Sheriff’s burn ban will be lifted beginning at 6:00 pm on Friday, August 31, 2012. After a meeting of local Fire Chiefs this week, Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo has decided to lift the countywide burn ban that has been in place since April 5, 2012. Local Fire Chiefs reported this week that fuel moisture levels in the Roaring Fork Valley are back to normal for this time of year, eliminating the need for a burn ban.
Residents are always encouraged to utilize safe fire practices; especially with the return to normal use of open flames on all private and state lands within Pitkin County. Sheriff Joe DiSalvo would like to extend a special thank you to the citizens, elected officials, fire personnel, and law enforcement agencies of Pitkin County who went above and beyond to keep the county safe during one of the driest seasons on record in Colorado. “We couldn’t have done this without the entire community behind us,” said DiSalvo, “Thank you for keeping our community safe, and enjoy the holiday weekend.”
Although the danger of wildfire may have subsided for now, citizens are encouraged to visit www.pitkinemergency.org to learn how to sign up for Pitkin Alert, an emergency notification system that sends text, email, pager, and voice alerts. Please direct all media questions to Pitkin County Deputy Jeff Lumsden at (970) 920-5300.
Effective 12:00 am August 1, 2012
The Pitkin County Sheriff, with the support from the Fire Chiefs of Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt, and Carbondale, has reduced current fire restrictions to Stage 1 in response to recent weather patterns experienced in Pitkin County.
“Although fuel moisture levels are not ideal, they have improved enough to scale back restrictions,” said Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo. After continued discussion with local fire chiefs, Stage 1 fire restrictions have been reinstated allowing the use of charcoal grills as well as fires enclosed within portable, commercial fireplaces in developed areas. Developed areas include campgrounds and recreation areas, as well as areas that have been improved from their natural state through the use of gravel, concrete, or irrigation techniques. “Most backyards fall under the category of ‘developed’,” explained Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson, “We just don’t want people going out into the middle of the woods or dry grassy fields and starting fires.”
“Our main concern is preventing embers or sparks from getting stirred up by the wind, traveling through the air, and remotely starting fires,” said Thompson. “Wood fires are notorious for reigniting long after users think they are extinguished,” he said, which is why under Stage 1 restrictions they must be contained within an enclosed fire pit with proper safety mechanisms. Decorative, in-ground natural gas fires are also allowed under Stage 1 restrictions if they have a listed pilot safety and flame safeguard devices in working order.
“The goal of our restrictions are to keep the citizens of Pitkin County safe and prevent catastrophic fires similar to those we’ve witnessed throughout Colorado this year,” said DiSalvo, “We want the public to remember that fire season usually doesn’t start until the fall, so we’re not in the clear yet.” Additional wildfire information and emergency updates can be found online at www.pitkinemergency.org. Citizens are encouraged to visit this site to learn how to sign up for Pitkin Alert, an emergency notification system that sends text, email, pager, and voice alerts. You can also tune into local radio stations for current information in the event of an emergency. Please direct all media questions to Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo at (970) 920-5300.
The following open fire ban and restrictions shall apply on all private and state lands in Pitkin County. Federal lands are excluded.
Stage I activities allowed:
- Open fires in charcoal or gas fire grills commonly used for home preparation of meals.
- Open fires in exterior, in-ground decorative natural-gas appliances with listed pilot safety and flame safeguard devices in working order.
- Recreational fires in developed areas fully contained in a commercially purchased portable outdoor fireplace (i.e. a metal, in-ground or above ground containment structure) with approved spark arrester, water supply nearby, and located an appropriate distance from combustible material (15 feet).
- A fire within a furnace, stove, boiler, or other place within a house or structure.
- Camp stoves on private lands, commercially purchased/approved camping stoves and/or backpacking stoves.
- Smoking within an enclosed vehicle or building or in a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable vegetation.
Stage I activities not allowed:
- Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or “open fire” of any type on private lands outside of a developed campground or recreational area with fire grates (unless authorized with written approval by Pitkin County and appropriate fire protection district).
- Wood burning appliances such as a chimineas without approved spark arresters or front grates.
- Improperly discarded smoking materials, including but not limited to cigarette butts and matches.
- Using explosive material i.e. firecrackers, fireworks, tracer rounds, blasting caps or any incendiary device, which may result in the ignition of flammable material.
- Operating or using a chainsaw or any internal combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working condition.
- Possessing, discharging, or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device, to include sparklers.
- Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with an open flame except within an area that is barren or cleared of all flammable material within 10 feet of equipment.
Knowingly or recklessly burning during this ban is illegal and legal actions may be taken against individuals in violation under CRS 30-15-410 and Pitkin County Resolution 96-38.
The temporary restrictions and burn ban are in effect until further notice.
If you have any questions please contact your local fire district or Sheriff’s Office at:
Aspen Fire Protection District 925-5532
Basalt & Rural Fire Protection District 704-0675
Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District 963-2491
Snowmass/Wildcat Fire Protection District 923-2212
Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office 920-5300
July 26, 2012
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – With rains and higher humidity lowering fire danger, fire restrictions on Bureau of Land Management lands in the Grand Junction and Colorado River Valley field offices will be lowered to Stage 1 beginning July 27.
The U.S. Forest Service Grand Valley Ranger District, which includes Uncompahgre National Forest lands in Mesa County and the Grand Mesa National Forest lands, will remain in Stage 1 fire restrictions.
Fire restrictions will be lifted on other National Forest System lands in the Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests effective July 27. The White River National Forest lifted their fire restrictions last week.
By moving to Stage 1, BLM is now permitting campfires in designated metal fire grates in developed campgrounds. Fires outside of these designated fire grates, including stone fire rings, fire pans, and charcoal grills are still prohibited. Propane and backpacking stoves are permitted.
Decisions about fire restrictions are based on specific moisture measurements in vegetation. Rains in the lower elevations and the western part of the Upper Colorado River Unit in particular have helped fire conditions but have not been consistent.
“The public has been very supportive of our fire restrictions during this extremely dry spring and summer,” said Chris Farinetti of the Upper Colorado River Interagency Management Unit. “While the fire danger is becoming less severe, it is still present and people need to continue to be very careful with fire and to continue abiding by these restrictions.”
Violation of federal fire restrictions is punishable by a fine of not more than $100,000 or imprisonment for not more than 12 months or both. Those found responsible for starting wildfires will also face restitution costs of suppressing the fire.
For more information about fire restrictions in these areas, log on to http://gacc.nifc.gov/rmcc/
Where are the designated metal fire grates on BLM lands in these areas?
The only places within the Grand Junction Field Office are the developed campgrounds: Mud Springs, North Fruita, Rabbit Valley, Castle Rocks, Knowles Canyon Overlook, and the Big Dominquez campgrounds.
The only places within the Colorado River Valley Field Office are the developed campgrounds: Catamount, Deep Creek, Gypsum, Lyons Gulch, Pinball, and Wolcott campgrounds.
Public Affairs Specialist
BLM NW Colorado District
2300 River Frontage Road
Silt, CO 81652
Fire Ban Remains in Effect in Pitkin County Even Though Lifted in National Forest
Recent rains have prompted federal fire officials to modify the fire restrictions that have been in effect for the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit (UCR).
Effective Friday, July 20th, all fire restrictions on the White River National Forest will be rescinded. Federal lands managed by the BLM Colorado River and Grand Junction Field Offices remain under Stage II Fire Restrictions. As announced earlier, the Grand Mesa, Umcompahgre and Gunnison National Forests are currently under Stage I restrictions. This announcement applies only to federal lands within the UCR.
According to Bill Hahnenberg, Fire Management Officer for the UCR, “We have taken a careful look at the weather and fuel moisture date from weather stations across the UCR. This information indicates that we should lift the fire restrictions for the White River National Forest. However, the lower elevation areas remain very dry. The data supports keeping the areas managed by the BLM at Stage II restrictions at this time.”
Announcing the decision to lift all fire restrictions, Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said, “While there have been several large fires in Colorado this summer, we have not had any major fires caused by human activity. Fire management agencies to concentrate on responding to the many naturally caused widlfires. I urge the public to remain vigilant and be very careful with fires. While we feel current conditions allow us lift fire restrictions at this time, another period of dry weather could see an increase in fire danger. Should conditions warrant we could again implement fire restrictions across the White River.”
“The fire danger remains higher on BLM lands so we will keep the BLM areas in Stage II at this time,” Hahnenberg said. “These lands are generally lower in elevation than lands on the White River National Forest. We have not received rain consistently across the two field offices. Conditions on all federal lands within the UCR will continue to be monitored.”
Because of the differing conditions across the UCR, counties have taken different positions with regard to fire restrictions for non-federal lands. Fire restrictions remain in effect for Pitkin, Garfield, Eagle and Rio Blanco Counties. Fire restrictions have been lifted for Summit and Mesa Counties. The public is urged to contact the County Sheriff in the appropriate county for the most current information on fire restrictions for non-federal lands.Posted on Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Marci Krivonen – Aspen Publice Radio
Pitkin County is looking to improve the way it gets emergency information to the public. County officials say the old way of delivering information about wildfires, evacuations or other crises, isn’t always reaching homeowners.
When fire risk in Pitkin County reached an historic high this summer, emergency officials decided to test the county’s emergency telephone alert system. It dials all the county’s registered landlines. A fraction of those numbers, about 5300, were called, and more than half went unanswered at homes in places like Snowmass Village, Marble and Aspen.
Get the entire story from Aspen Public Radio online at: www.aspenpublicradio.org