The USDA Forest Service’s Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests announced Tuesday that national forest land in Boulder County would close at midnight Wednesday to help fight ongoing wildfires.
The Forest Service also is closing lands in Clear Creek, Gilpin, Jefferson and Larimer counties.
The decision was made based on the explosive growth of fires throughout the northern Colorado Front Range over the past week, including the Cameron Peak, CalWood and Lefthand Canyon fires, according to a news release from the Forest Service. The release said that this decision will be re-evaluated daily as conditions change.
The counties where the forest closures apply have been experiencing severe drought; extremely low fuel moisture conditions; a high occurrence of human-caused wildfires; limited capacity for response due to multiple wildfires; and persistent fire-danger weather conditions with no immediate relief in the forecast, the release said.
Forest Supervisor Monte Williams said the “number of large fires and extreme fire behavior” seen in Colorado this year “is historic.”
“These temporary closures are necessary to protect the public and our firefighters, and we will keep them in place until conditions improve and we are confident that the risk of new fire starts has decreased,” Williams said in the release. “I ask all of our local residents and visitors to take these closures and evacuations seriously to allow our firefighters to focus on the mission of safely suppressing the existing fires.”
As of Tuesday morning, the release said that nearly 442,000 acres of land are currently affected by wildfire across north central Colorado and southern Wyoming, according to the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center.
Following the announcement, Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Tuesday said options are available for hunters to get refunds for tags for second season rifle licenses. Hunters with tags in Game Management Units 29, 38 and 39 will be affected, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife news release. Staff from Colorado Parks and Wildlife will reach out to hunters directly. People can also visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website to learn about options at bit.ly/3jeE80r.
The order and a map of closures can be viewed at: fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd831610.pdf.