Letter to the editor: The Rio Grande National Forest and the San Luis Valley are still open for business

The Rio Grande National Forest is currently under a stage one (1) alert, which means no fires except in official, constructed, confined campground locations. It is likely to remain at that level due to the economic focus of Superintendent Dan Dallas and his team. They consider the economic health of the San Luis Valley extremely important and it is a factor in their decision-making paradigm.

They meet weekly to look at 10 indices that define wildfire possibilities. They have personnel, around the Valley, testing moisture content in the live tree needles, moisture content in the duff on the forest floor, moisture content in the underbrush and grasses. They look at the impacts of any moisture and of the lack of moisture.  One of the 10 indices is the impact of human behavior. That one we can all help with by encouraging our friends, customers, and employees to respect and use common sense while on the public lands this summer.

We, as the business and professional community, should be communicating on social media, advertising, and promotions that the San Luis Valley and all its beauty continues to be open and available for the public to enjoy this summer. 

As an example, the Continental Divide Trail serpentines back and forth across the continental divide into both the San Juan National Forest and the Rio Grande National Forest. The San Juan side is closed, but if you look at a map you can pick out a watershed to hike up to a section of the trail in the Rio Grande National Forest and then continue on it to another water shed, which is your route back out. While on the divide you can sit, lunch, and admire the beauty of the western side in the San Juan National Forest but don’t go into it. There are wilderness areas and other designated areas that are in both forests. The Rio Grande areas are available, but the San Juan areas are under stage three which means no public access. Consult your map, and while this may alter your or someone else’s plans a little, it does not prevent you from enjoying the reasons we all live and/or visit the San Luis Valley.

Consult your local community or county as there are some fireworks bans in effect.

Marty Asplin



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