Dry conditions prompt fire restrictions

VALLEY — The Rio Grande National Forest and Bureau of Land Management’s San Luis Valley Field Office are initiating Stage 1 fire restrictions beginning May 21. The low snowpack and warm temperatures have created unusually dry conditions for this time of year in the foothills and mountains that surround the San Luis Valley.

Stage 1 fire restrictions prohibit:

1. All open fires, campfires, charcoal-fueled fires, or coal or wood burning stove fires unless in an established fire grate in a developed campground. Petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices are allowed.

2. Smoking, unless within an enclosed vehicle or building, 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 material.

3. Operating a chainsaw without a USDA or SAE approved spark arrestor properly installed, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A kept with the operator, and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches.

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

As a reminder, the use of explosives and incendiary devices, including fireworks, are prohibited on all federal lands.

Contact the Rio Grande National Forest at 719-852-5941 or the San Luis Valley Field Office at 719-852-7074.