DEVELOPED RECREATION SITES

USDA Forest Service officials are temporarily closing all developed recreation sites and asking the recreating public to disperse across National Forest system lands within the Rocky Mountain Region (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming) in groups of no greater than 10 individuals.

  • All trails, trailheads, and parking facilities remain open. Trail users must adhere to social distancing and COVID-19 prevention orders and guidelines issued by local, state and federal authorities while using trails.
  • Given the demonstrated risk of exposure to the virus from large, concentrated gatherings of people, USDA Forest Service officials are asking the recreating public to comply with state and local health orders.
  • To minimize the impact and spread of the virus, developed recreation sites such as restrooms, picnic areas, and campgrounds are closed on National Forest system lands in the Rocky Mountain Region through at least April 30, 2020.

While trails and roads may be open for use on National Forest system lands in the Rocky Mountain Region, visitors need to prepare for very limited services.

  • Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to response for current health emergencies. High risk or backcountry activities that may increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided.
  • These closures and restrictions are in place to prevent the drawdown of fire and medical resources from our local county and state resources. If these resources are responding to and assisting in an incident on forest, that limits their assistance to community response to other health related emergencies.

Visitors to National Forest system lands in the Rocky Mountain Region must be prepared to pack out all trash and human waste. We ask the recreating public to follow Leave No Trace principles when visiting their public lands, now more than ever.

  • USDA Forest Service officials will review this guidance on an ongoing basis and will consider lifting restrictions based on conversations with states and local governments.

FIRE RESTRICTIONS

USDA Forest Service officials are providing recreation opportunities where possible, while keeping employees, the public, and our communities safe from the virus. We are also working to protect communities, as well as both natural and cultural resources, safe from unwanted human-caused wildfires.

  • Until further notice, the following fire-related activities are prohibited on National Forest system lands within the Rocky Mountain Region (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming):
    1. Igniting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, including charcoal grills and barbecues, coal and wood burning stoves, and sheepherder’s stoves.
    2. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle, trailer, or building.
  • Exceptions to the prohibited fire-related activities include:
  1. Persons with a Forest Permit, Form FS-7700-48, specifically exempting them from the effect of this Order in the areas listed above.
  2. Any Federal, State or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty is exempt from Prohibitions.
  3. Persons using pressurized liquid or gas devices (stoves, grills or lanterns) with shut-off valves in an area at least three feet from any flammable materials are exempt from Prohibition #1.
  4. Residents, owners or lessees within the areas listed above who are using a fire in a permanent dwelling with an effective and properly installed USDA- or SAE- approved spark arrestor, are exempt from Prohibition #1.
  • During this fire restriction period, igniting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or smoking on national forests and grasslands is a violation of the law and may result in an appearance in federal court, fines, and possible time in jail.

Fire restrictions enhance public safety, protect natural and cultural resources, and help prevent human-caused wildfires.

  1. Several criteria are used to determine when to implement fire restrictions, including fire activity levels, current and predicted weather, fuel moisture, and the availability of emergency and firefighting resources.
  2. Additional restrictions may be required if conditions warrant.

Given the demonstrated risk of exposure to the virus from large, concentrated gatherings of people, USDA Forest Service officials are asking the recreating public to comply with all state and local health orders as well as USDA Forest Service Orders.

  • Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to response to the current health crisis. High risk or backcountry activities that may increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided.
    1. Federal wildland fire agencies are working closely with state and local partners in supporting the U.S. response to the current health crisis. These restrictions are in place to prevent the overtaxing of fire and medical resources of our local county and state partners.
  • USDA Forest Service officials will review this guidance on an ongoing basis and will consider lifting restrictions based on conversations with states and local governments.

For more information, check out their website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/psicc or email Thomas Skaja, Recreation Special Uses Permit Administrator, at thomas.m.skaja@usda.gov

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