In a recent press release, the Forest Service announced that they will be closing the San Juan National Forest with an order set to be signed on June 12, 2018. The closure is an attempt to mitigate fire risk during an extremely dry season. Under this plan, Stage 3 fire restrictions will be implemented, which block public entry of an area.

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Included in the restriction will be access to forest campgrounds, day use areas, roads, and trails. Dispersed camping and other activities will also be prohibited.

Exceptions can be made, but only by special request and granted approval from the appropriate District Ranger.

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The San Juan National Forest covers approximately 1.8 million acres of terrain spread across 9 southwestern Colorado counties. Roads that cross through National Forest land are said to not be affected by this order.

According to San Juan National Forest Supervisor, Kara Chadwick, closing the area was “an extremely difficult decision,” affecting tourism, local business, and the public. Criteria used to shut down the space included current and predicted weather, fire fuel sources, current fire activity, and available firefighting resources.

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Is this inconvenient for outdoor recreation plans this summer? To some, yes. Will it help prevent a destructive fire that could block outdoor recreation in large swaths of land for years to come? Hopefully.

Violations of the order will be punishable by up to $5,000 to $10,000 fines and up to six months in jail.

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