The San Juan National Forest will be closed for the first time ever by the US Forest Service to prevent human-caused fires this season. According to the Durango Herald, the national forest was closed on Tuesday the 12th and will remain closed indefinitely. If you live in Colorado or the southwest, this might not come as a surprise as the winter season was extremely dry and the snow has already fully melted.
The national forest was closed after two major fires sprang up earlier this spring which prompted the close of entry. One of the fires, known as Fire 416, has already burned 22,130 acres, while the other, known as the Burro Fire, has burned 1,000 acres. The cause of the two fires have yet to be determined. San Juan National Forest is a massive part of Colorado and encompasses 9 counties, thousands of access roads, and 1.8 million acres.
The closure enacted is called Stage Three Fire Restrictions. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, a Stage Three is so severe that the need to close outweighs the social, economical and political ramifications associated with closing the park. Hiking, camping, and recreating in the forest is prohibited. Violations of the closure result in mandatory appearance in a federal court, $5,000 fine for an individual, $10,000 fine for an organization, up to 6 months of prison, or both!
Hopefully southern Colorado receives some cold summer rains so the ban is lifted and people can recreate!