RIO GRANDE NATIONAL FOREST — Rio Grande National Forest Public Affairs Officer Gregg Goodland gave a brief update on the activities happening in the forest this time of year and spoke about the current fire season as the San Luis Valley transitions from fall into winter.
“We are currently at moderate fire danger and as always crews are readily available to respond to calls. There are no fire restrictions in place with none expected in the near future," Goodland said.
The region has had a good fire season over the past several months with no immediate fires threatening the area. After the fire season in 2020, this came as a huge relief to those in the state and the San Luis Valley.
“We are watching our fuel moistures closely and still plan to conduct the fall prescribed burns we referenced in our Oct. 01 news release. Just the English Valley burn on the Divide Ranger District,” he said.
Goodland added, “We supported the national firefighting effort this year with thousands of hours of RGNF employee time conducting jobs from firefighting to logistics, administrative to aircraft support. All RGNF fire and support personnel are currently back home. Many areas around us are dry and many forests in restrictions like Gunnison, San Juan, Carson Forest districts.”
In addition to the current fire season, Goodland gave an update on the Poage Lake closure.
“The area was closed on Sept. 13, 2021, to provide for public safety during logging operations adjacent to the lake and parking area. The contractor is very close to completing work in that logging unit and will conduct standard clean-up work soon.
“Numerous beetle-killed trees have been removed from the area. By comparison, it will look much more open than in the past. The activity will allow more light to reach the forest floor and promote regenerative growth in the area, including native grasses, forbs, shrubs, and Engelman spruce trees. Most hazard trees have been removed and we anticipate the closure to be lifted within the next two weeks. This is well in advance of the closure’s published end date of Dec. 31, 2021.”
Goodland also chimed in on the coming rifle seasons in the area.
“This is a time when there is a large influx of users to the RGNF," Goodland said. "We encourage all forest users to be aware of their surroundings and know that hunters may be in the area they are in. Hunters often use OHVs for access, so there may be greater numbers out on the forest and at times earlier or later in the day."
Goodland added, “We support all responsible uses of the Rio Grande National Forest. We ask all users to promote good stewardship of the land by staying on the roads and trails with OHVs, pack out all their trash, and if you see other trash, pack it out too! We also ask that all fires are completely extinguished before leaving. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave. Vegetation is relatively dry this time of year. Fires can easily flare up and spread in a strong wind.”
RGNF is also asking OHV users to stay on the trail.
“If snow/mud blocks the road or trail — then turn around," he said. "Come back another day. Do not go off-road. Going off-road creates visible side trails that can be difficult and costly to repair. Other folks might follow those tracks. Just because the OHV can make it, doesn’t mean it should make it.”
For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/main/riogrande/home.