DENVER – If you were hoping to hunt or recreate this weekend in national forest land, you might want to opt for plan B, as the closure of all National Forest lands will continue across six Front Range counties through the weekend.
Forest Supervisor Monte Williams confirmed Thursday that the temporary closure of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests will continue through the weekend. The decision was closely coordinated with and supported by Grand, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Boulder, Larimer and Jefferson counties and their sheriffs, said spokesman K. “Reid” Armstrong. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has also supported the Forest in this decision.
“I understand the tremendous impact this closure has on people wanting to hunt and recreate on the National Forest,” Williams said. “We are taking a careful, measured and deliberative approach, factoring in the forecasts, fuel conditions, and availability of firefighting personnel.”
While the recent snowfall across Central Colorado on Sunday helped the finer fuels recover, it will do little to help the larger fuels like trees and downed logs, which are the driest fire mangers have seen in 20 years, Armstrong said.
“Both the Cameron Peak and Williams Fork fires have already been snowed on multiple times, and they both made big runs after that.” Williams said. “We are seeing conditions worse than 2012 when the Fern Lake Fire made a run through Rocky Mountain National Park toward Estes Park from under the snow in December. Fire season is not over in northern Colorado.”
Rocky Mountain National Park is also closed to all visitors until further notice.
The forecast for the next two weeks calls for a return of warmer-than-normal temperatures with no significant moisture in the extended outlook. As the snow melts, the potential for new fire starts and growth remains, Armstrong said.
The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest has been in Stage 1 fires restrictions, banning dispersed campfires, since April, Armstrong said. A Stage 2 fire ban went in effect across portions of the Forest in July and the remainder of the Forest in August. Stage 3 fire restrictions went into effect Oct. 20, banning all use of the National Forest due to extreme fire danger.