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July 30, 2020

Public land agencies remind visitors to exercise caution amid high fire risks

Visitors have a responsibility to protect public lands & recreate responsibly.

Five Colorado open space agencies continue to remind Front Range community members to practice responsible recreation as high temperatures and low humidity have helped to spark recent wildfires across the area. The possession of fireworks, lighting of fireworks and campfires are all prohibited in areas managed by Boulder County Parks & Open Space, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Denver Parks and Recreation Mountain Parks and Jefferson County Open Space.

With the Elephant Butte Fire near Evergreen and two small open space wildfires in Boulder County, the agencies remind visitors that they have a responsibility in protecting first responders, communities, and shared public lands. Rangers and state wildlife officers will issue citations to anyone who possesses or lights fireworks. Citations also will be issued to visitors who light prohibited campfires. The agencies remind all community members to check current fire restrictions instituted where they plan to recreate and follow all public land rules and regulations.

As high visitation to Front Range open space areas continues, the five agencies continue to remind community members to not take any risks when visiting public lands. Visitors should follow all face coverings requirements in areas they plan to recreate. Open space visitors in Boulder and Jefferson are required to wear face coverings anytime 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained at trailheads, restrooms, and when passing others on trails.

Before you head out:

  • Know before you go. Learn about an area or trail you plan on visiting to make sure you understand the difficulty level and what challenges you may face. Check the managing agency’s website or visit websites that provide reviews and user experiences.
  • Remember to know your dog’s hiking limits and ensure that your dog gets enough water and rest stops. Hot temperatures and exercise can cause dogs to suffer heatstroke.
  • Check the weather forecast for where you are going. The weather in higher elevations can be significantly different than in lower elevations.
  • During the summer, thunderstorms can form any time of the day, time your outdoor activities to avoid being outside during the storms, especially if there is lightning.
  • Always make sure someone knows where you are going and when you are supposed to return, who you are with, and give them a description of the car you are going in. If you change your plans, let the person know.
  • Have a back-up plan. Many trailheads fill up quickly, and no legal parking will be available. Have a plan B for where you can go if your first choice isn’t available.

What to bring:

  • Bring more food and water than you think you will need. Always bring water for your dog.
  • Bring a first aid kit, an emergency blanket, a working headlamp, whistle, etc.
  • Bring appropriate safety gear for the activity you are doing (helmet, life jacket, etc.)
  • Dress in layers and try to wear clothing that is made for outdoor activities (breathable, waterproof, windproof, etc.)
  • Bring a paper map or download a map ahead of time that can be used without the internet in case your phone or GPS isn’t working.
  • If you plan to recreate in the backcountry or wilderness areas, consider purchasing a handheld GPS device with an SOS feature.
  • Start with a fully charged cell phone. Consider putting the phone in airplane mode to save battery life and/or carrying a small portable charger.

If you need help:

  • If you need assistance from first responders, first try to call 911, but if there is not enough cell coverage, try texting 911. Most dispatch centers are now capable of accepting text messages.
  • If you are lost, contact 911 and stay where you are. If you are on a trail or road, stay on the trail or road. That will help search and rescuers find you.

View designated open space trail maps and closure areas through these websites:

Phillip Yates, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, 303-349-2438

Vivienne Jannatpour, Boulder County Parks & Open Space, 303-678-6277

Jason Clay, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, 303-829-7143​

Cyndi Karvaski, Denver Parks and Recreation Mountain Parks, 303-819-0111

Matthew Robbins, Jefferson County Open Space, 303-271-5902