BLM closes Pine Ridge Fire area due to erosion, hazard concerns
The Bureau of Land Management said today it is temporarily closing public lands burned by the Pine Ridge Fire southwest of De Beque to reduce possible erosion and because of the potential danger to visitors.
Lightning sparked a fire that burned 13,920 acres, most of it BLM land, from June 27 to July 4. BLM efforts now are focused on revegetating and otherwise restoring the denuded landscape to prevent problems such as mud and rock slides and sediment-laden runoff from storms.
“Given the hazards in this area, the continuing work of the rehabilitation team, and the potential for severe erosion that could increase sediment in the Colorado River, a complete closure is necessary until further notice,” Grand Junction Field Manager Catherine Robertson said in a news release.
Ash and burned vegetation from the fire recently washed into the Colorado River as a result of storms in the fire area, affecting municipal water supplies in the Clifton area.
The BLM closure begins Thursday and bars all motorized vehicle, mechanized vehicle (such as bicycle) and foot travel. The agency will post closure signs at main entry points to the area.
Maps of the closure area and other information are available at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo.html or from the BLM Grand Junction Field Office at 2815 H Road.
Anyone convicted of violating the closure could be fined up to $1,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 12 months.
The closure order includes exceptions, including for persons with written authorization from the BLM, along with firefighters, organized rescuers, and federal, state and local officials acting in the scope of their duties.
The BLM will hold a public meeting in De Beque Wednesday to discuss and answer questions about the closure, the rehabilitation effort, and how things are going for people after the fire. It will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the De Beque Community Center.