Severe conditions prompt Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland to enter Stage II fire restrictions

USDA 8-19-20

Fire-prone fuel and weather conditions have prompted the need for Stage II fire restrictions on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland (MBRTB).

Restrictions go into effect on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020 and include National Forest System lands located in Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, and Routt counties in northwest Colorado; Albany, Campbell, Carbon, Converse, Crook, Natrona, Niobrara, Platte, and Weston counties in Wyoming.

Tightened restrictions are necessary due to persistent dry, windy, and hot weather conditions, as well as the danger of human-caused wildfires from increased recreation usage across the Forests and Grassland. Fire restrictions will help protect public health and safety, as well as natural resources during this extended period of elevated potential for wildfires.

An uncommon occurrence, the MBRTB last implemented Stage II restrictions in 2012. Stage I restrictions have been in place on the Forests and Grassland since July 3, 2020.

The USDA Forest Service has coordinated with all affected counties and state agencies on the timing of the restrictions.

The following prohibitions are in effect until further notice:

  • Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire. This includes charcoal grills and barbecues, coal and wood burning stoves and sheepherder’s stoves and includes use in developed camping and picnic grounds.
    • EXCEPT: Devices using pressurized liquid or gas (stoves, grills, fire pits, or lanterns) that include shut-off valves are permitted when used in an area at least three feet or more from flammable material such as grasses or pine needles.
  • Smoking
    • EXCEPT: Within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.
  • Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.
  • Operating or using any internal combustion engine (e.g. chainsaw, generator, ATV/UTV) without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order meeting either: Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Standard 5100-1a; or Appropriate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice J335(b) and J350(a).
  • Operating a chainsaw without an approved spark arresting device, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (8 oz. capacity by weight or larger and kept with the operator) and a round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use.
  • Using an explosive. This includes but is not limited to fuses or blasting caps, fireworks, rockets, exploding targets, and tracers or incendiary ammunition.
  • Possessing or using a motor vehicle off established roads, motorized trails or established parking areas, except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the vehicle.

Violation of these regulations is punishable as a class B misdemeanor, carrying a possible fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, imprisonment of not more than six months, or both.  Anyone negligently or willfully starting a wildland fire could also be held responsible for the costs of that fire.

Heading into the Labor Day holiday weekend and with the start of hunting seasons approaching, Forest users are reminded that all restrictions apply to all visitors and that even small fires are disallowed.

Forest staff will continue to monitor conditions to assess the need for further action, including additional restrictions if weather remains hot and dry and lessening restrictions if a wetter weather pattern develops.

Our offices are serving the public remotely and are available by phone. Call your local office for site-specific information.

  • Brush Creek-Hayden Ranger District, Saratoga, Wyo., (307) 326-5258
  • Douglas Ranger District, Douglas, Wyo., (307) 358-4690
  • Hahns Peak-Bears Ears Ranger District, Steamboat Springs, Colo., (970) 870-2299
  • Forest Supervisor’s Office & Laramie Ranger District, Laramie, Wyo., (307) 745-2300
  • Parks Ranger District, Walden, Colo., (970) 723-2700
  • Yampa Ranger District, Yampa, Colo., (970) 638-4516

Additional information may be found on our website or you can follow the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland on Twitter, @FS_MBRTB.

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