Fire restrictions in place until the end of the year

WINDOW ROCK

A Stage 1 fire restriction for the the Mount Taylor District, which is comprised of two mountain ranges – Mt. Taylor and the Zuni Mountains – will go into effect on Thursday, said Alvin Whitehair, district ranger for the Forest Service’s Mount Taylor Ranger District.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture press release, a Stage 1 fire restriction means campfires, charcoal, coal and wood stoves fires are prohibited unless in developed areas provided by the Forest Service. Smoking is also prohibited unless it is within an enclosed vehicle, building, or a developed recreation site.

A Stage 2 fire restriction, according to the USDA Forest Service website, is a more strict restriction, which prohibits discharging a firearm, except during a legal and permit-held hunting season, operating any internal combustion engines, welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with flames, or using an explosive.

The mountain ranges cover a combined area of 520,000 acres, with elevations ranging from 6,500 feet to 11,301 feet, said Whitehair.

The restriction, which affects all of Forest Service Region 3, Cibola National Forest and Grasslands, is expected to be in place until Dec. 31, Whitehair said.

While a restriction will be put in place for Mt. Taylor and Zuni Mountain ranges, Darryl Wilson, a fire prevention specialist with the BIA Fire and Aviation Management, said there are no restrictions in place for the Navajo Nation.

Wilson said that despite the lack of restrictions, people who plan to do any type of burning should be careful.

“The main thing I want to stress: Campers at Wheatfields Lake are not properly putting out their fires,” Wilson said. “Douse your fire with lots of water and stir it up and make sure there is bare earth around it.”

Wilson also urged anyone planning field burns to postpone them until conditions for burning improve. He also wanted to remind everyone that a permit from the Navajo EPA is needed before doing any kind of burning.

While certain exemptions are made, such as having a Forest Service permit, law enforcement and fire officials performing their official duties, resident owners or lessees of land and holders of Forest Service recreation special use authorizations, violators could face a Class B misdemeanor, which could include a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment of up to six months, or both, Whitehair said.

Fireworks are illegal on U.S. Forest Service areas, as well as the Navajo Nation.


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