Colorado’s 1.8-million acre San Juan National Forest will remain closed to the public until ‘historic’ fire conditions improve.
Calling it “an extremely difficult decision,” supervisor Kara Chadwick plans to sign an order closing all of the San Juan National Forest. The announcement came today after a month of increasing fire restrictions in the forest and worsening wildfires in the area.
With the announcement, officials will close forest campgrounds, day use areas, roads, and trails. This includes wilderness areas. In addition, hiking, dispersed camping, and other recreational activities will be prohibited until the forest reopens.
“The indices our fire team uses to predict fire danger are at historic levels well before we can expect any significant moisture from the seasonal monsoons,” said Richard Bustamante, SJNF forest fire staff officer.
“Under current conditions, one abandoned campfire or spark could cause a catastrophic wildfire, and we are not willing to take that chance with the natural and cultural resources under our protection and care, or with human life and property.”
Fire Danger: San Juan National Forest Closed
According to a U.S. Forest Service press release, officials began instituting fire restrictions in San Juan National Forest on May 1. But dry conditions have persisted, resulting in fires that currently threaten the area.
Right now, there are two fires burning in the San Juan National Forest. The Burro fire has affected 1,000 acres and is currently zero percent contained. And the 416 Fire north of Durango, which started on June 1, has consumed 16,000 acres. Crews report they have it 10 percent contained.
Per officials, the closure will remain in effect “until the forest receives sufficient moisture to improve conditions.” Until then, all 1.8 million acres, including the Piedra Area and the Weminuche and South San Juan wilderness areas, remain off limits.
In addition, violating the closure carries serious penalties. It’s punishable by fine up to $5,000, six months in prison, or both.