Mesa County Implements Stage 1 Fire Restrictions
MESA COUNTY, Colo - The Mesa County Sheriff, the Bureau of Land Management and the Fire Chiefs representing municipalities and fire protection districts of Mesa County are implementing Stage 1 Fire Restrictions effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday, June 26th, 2020. This applies to all of Mesa County including BLM Land with the EXCEPTION of Grand Mesa National Forest.
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions prohibit:
- Personal use of fireworks
- Campfires outside of designated fire pits or fire rings
- Agricultural open burning without a Sheriff’s issued burn permit
- Use of explosive targets
- Smoking outside near combustible materials.
“We don’t make this decision without thoughtful consideration. We look at the data, the potential for significant wildfires and balance it with the impacts to our community,” said Mesa County Sheriff Matt Lewis. “I’m concerned with the level of fire danger we are seeing, one spark could quickly spread into a dangerous wildfire threatening lives, property and natural resources.”
Fire restrictions are implemented based on specific criteria to include moisture content of vegetation, weather outlooks, human risk factors and firefighting resource availability. It’s been hot, dry, and unseasonably windy. So far this year, we’ve had 15 Red Flag Warnings which is more than what we typically see over an entire year. The National Weather Service is forecasting above average temperatures and dry conditions with no relief from rain anytime soon.
“It’s important to recognize the inherent fire danger associated with the current weather conditions within our city and do everything that we can as a community to reduce the human causes of brush and wildland fires," said Grand Junction Fire Chief Ken Watkins.
With increasingly dry vegetation, severe drought conditions, and Fourth of July celebrations approaching, the danger for human caused wildfires increases even more.
"We are starting to see more human caused fires. The recent hot and dry conditions and no forecast for significant moisture in the next few weeks pose greater fire risk. We want everyone to be cautious on the upcoming holiday weekend while enjoying their public lands." stated Grand Junction Field Manager Greg Wolfgang.
Fireworks are not allowed under Stage I Fire Restrictions. Professional fireworks shows may be allowed through the permitting process.
Campfires are ONLY allowed in designated fire pits or fire rings.
Smoking in open areas is not allowed EXCEPT within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area of at least six feet diameter that is barren or cleared of all combustible material.
While the restrictions do not impact most shooting sports, explosive targets are prohibited.
The open burning of yard waste or fields is prohibited EXCEPT for agricultural burns with a Sheriff Issued Burn Permit. The Sheriff’s Fire Marshal will conduct an onsite inspection of each planned burn BEFORE a Permit is issued to ensure all safety precautions are met. If they are not met, and conditions do not allow for a safe burn a permit will NOT be issued and any agricultural burn will be in violation of the fire restrictions in place. Applications for a Sheriff issued burn permit can be found here.
Causing a fire during fire restrictions can be a class 6 felony and can be punishable by fines up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment up to 18 months. Other possible charges include Fourth Degree Arson (M2) and Intentionally Setting a Wildfire (F3). You may also be held financially responsible for damage caused.
The use of fireworks, flares, or other incendiary devices, including exploding targets, are always prohibited on federal lands. Wood fires are never permitted anywhere on the Colorado National Monument.
View Interactive Fire Restrictions Map at bit.ly/Fire_Restrictions
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $111 billion in economic output across the country in fiscal year 2019—more than any other agency in the Department of the Interior. These activities supported more than 498,000 jobs.