Eagle County nears fire restrictions
July 12, 2013
EAGLE — Right now, Bureau of Land Management land is the only area in Eagle County with fire restrictions, but that could change soon, depending on the weather.
“Higher fire danger does affect our tourism economy, and we don’t take that lightly — we don’t ban campfires often,” said Barry Smith, Eagle County emergency manager.
In fact, there are three entities that could all have different levels of fire restrictions at one time — the Bureau of Land Management, the National Forest and the county. Plus, each town may have its own restrictions.
In other words, just because you were able to have a primitive campfire in one spot doesn’t mean you can in another.
Stage 1 fire restrictions on BLM land
The Bureau of Land Management is currently in Stage 1 fire restrictions, which chiefly ban any fires outside of designated, permanently installed fire grates or pits.
“That means no rock rings for campfires,” said Bureau of Land Management spokesman David Boyd.
Even though the county and White River National Forest don’t have restrictions through the holiday weekend, Eagle County Wildfire Mitigation Manager Eric Lovgren said those areas are “on the threshold.”
“If the weather continues like it has been, I predict Stage 1 restrictions are imminent within two weeks,” he said.
Garfield County set fire bans on public and private lands June 26, the same time the Bureau of Land Management announced restrictions.
Discrepancy across eagle county
Fire-ban decisions in Eagle County can be harder to make because of the difference between the east and west ends of the county.
The higher elevation at the east end of the county compared to the lower, hotter and drier west end creates a disparity in fire danger.
“We’re lucky and unlucky in Eagle County right now,” Lovgren said. “On one hand, we’re lucky because we have several campgrounds near Vail that are safe, and that’s good for people coming here for the holiday weekend. On the other hand, it’s a different picture on the other side of the county, and we are trying to convey that to people.”
Boyd pointed out that the White River National Forest, which currently has no restrictions, is mostly in the east half of Eagle County while the west half of the region is mostly Bureau of Land Management land.
“Even if there aren’t restrictions in an area, that doesn’t mean there is no fire danger,” he said.