San Juan National Forest Closes Indefinitely

The San Juan National Forest in Southwest Colorado is closing indefinitely due to drought conditions and high fire risk, according to the National Forest Service.  The 1.8 million acre park will be closed to the general public until the forest receives sufficient moisture to improve conditions.

“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,” SJNF Forest Fire Staff Officer, Richard Bustamante said.  “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.”

Violating Stage 3 fire restrictions or going into a closed area carries a mandatory appearance in federal court, and is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 along with jail time of up to six months.

Two fires are burning in the area.  The 416 Fire north of Durango has burned more than 22,100 acres and is 15 percent contained.  The Burro Fire northeast of Dolores has scorched more than 1,000 acres.

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