Fire Restrictions and Backcountry Adventures – Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District

Fire Restrictions and Backcountry Adventures

As of Friday, June 26, Garfield and surrounding counties are in Stage I fire restrictions. These restrictions are implemented in Garfield, Pitkin, Gunnison, BLM, and USFS. What are Stage I Fire Restrictions and how do they affect you? Read on before you set off on your next adventure.  

From a recent Garfield County press release:

Fire restrictions are implemented based on specific criteria to include the moisture content of vegetation, weather outlooks, human risk factors, and firefighting resource availability. It’s been hot, dry, and unseasonably windy. 

Here’s what Stage I Restrictions mean:

  • Fireworks are not allowed under Stage I Fire Restrictions. Professional fireworks shows may be allowed through the permitting process.
  • All burn permits are postponed/canceled until further notice.
  • Campfires are only allowed within designated fire grates in developed areas (i.e. a permanent in-ground containment structure or store-bought fire pit) A temporary fire pan and rock campfire rings will not be acceptable.
  • No fires of any type including charcoal in undeveloped areas.
  • No smoking except within a designated area, enclosed vehicle or building, a developed area, or in an area free of combustibles.
  • No use of fireworks or explosive materials, including “exploding” targets or bullets and tracer rounds.
  • Exercise common sense and industry safety practice when welding or in the operation of an acetylene or other similar torch with an open flame in an always cleared safe area of vegetation and combustibles.

For more information please refer to the fire restrictions page on our website. 

Being Smart and Safe in the Backcountry 

This summer is different than most for many reasons, but one of the biggest factors has to do with the pandemic and how that impacts travel for most. People are generally keeping closer to home and we have seen an increase in interest in backcountry adventures. With the increase in outdoor activities, we want to encourage people to be educated in safety protocols and be prepared in case of an emergency situation. Our local search and rescue teams are amazing and already handle so much, so we hope to lessen the load by limiting the number of rescues needed. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind for your next adventure:

    • Weather: It’s normal to see any type of precipitation any day of the year in Colorado, especially in the high country. You may have clear, sunny skies as you begin your hike in the morning, but afternoon thunderstorms and lightning are likely to happen. The dangers of hypothermia exist even in the summer so make sure you have the proper equipment and clothing for your trip. In the event of lightning, stay low to the ground and away from isolated trees and exposed metal. Keep away from exposed areas where you are the tallest object.
    • Altitude: The altitude in our area can range from 5,500 to over 14,000 feet and the effects of altitude can come on quickly and be dangerous. Do your best to become acclimated before you venture out on an epic mountain adventure where you are likely to gain elevation quickly and make sure that you drink plenty of water. If you start to feel the symptoms of altitude sickness, such as nausea, headache, and shortness of breath we recommend turning around and heading back down the trail. 
    • Preparing for your adventure: Always let someone know where you are going, your route, and your estimated time to return. Pack necessary items such as sunscreen, water, layers, sunglasses, and a paper map in case you can’t access cell service. If you are going far into the backcountry where there is no cell reception, it is wise to have some sort of emergency calling device such as in InReach which will allow you to call out for rescue should you need it. More details on technology in the backcountry can be found on this blog post from last year.
    • What to do if there is an accident or you get lost: The best piece of advice is to stay calm, assess the situation and know where you are. (This is where your GPS or map will come in handy)
      • Determine the location of the injured party or the last place you saw the lost person.
      • If a person is injured, treat their injuries as best you can. If possible leave someone behind to care for them. Leave adequate food, water, clothes, and survival gear for the subject.
      • Call 9-1-1 for help. If you can’t call out, try to text 9-1-1. 

The best way to be prepared is to know your limits and educate yourself on safety procedures. Make plans to hike in a group, stick together, and always listen to your body. Humans have great instincts and if your body is telling you that something is wrong, it most likely is. The great thing about the outdoors is that the trail you wanted to hike today, will most likely still be there tomorrow, so take care of yourself first. If you have any questions or would like additional resources, feel free to reach out to your friends at the Carbondale Fire Department.