Fire restrictions across Jefferson County have been rolled back from stage-two restrictions to stage-one restrictions—allowing, among other activities, campfires in designated areas and the operation of motor vehicles off-trail where otherwise normally allowed. 

The Jefferson County Commission voted on Aug. 26 to end stage-two restrictions beginning at 12:01 a.m., just after midnight, on Saturday, Aug. 28. At that time, the county reverted back to stage-one restrictions, which were in place from June 10 to July 31, when the stage-two restrictions were enacted. The stage-two restrictions included all restrictions within stage-one, plus some additional prohibitions. 

The county restrictions govern all private non-forested lands outside of the incorporated cities of Boulder and Whitehall. Private forested lands are governed by the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation's restrictions. State public lands are covered by restrictions from the DNRC and Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and federal lands are covered by restrictions from the Forest Service and BLM

The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, which also recently had stage-two restrictions, reverted back to stage-one restrictions beginning Aug. 26.

The Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest was also under stage-two restrictions, but Doug Dodge, the county's fire warden and disaster and emergency services coordinator, said the forest reverted to stage-one in conjunction with the county on Saturday

BLM land in the county was under stage-two restrictions and also reverted to stage-one on Saturday. 

According to an interactive map of fire restrictions maintained by the state, DNRC-governed lands are under stage-one restrictions and FWP-governed lands are not under fire restrictions. 

Under stage-one restrictions, the following activities remain prohibited: 
  • Debris fires—defined as fires larger than 48 inches across—open burning and land-clearing fires.
  • Campfires and cooking fires, unless in a designated recreation or camp site, or in a fire ring on private property. Fires must not exceed a 3-by-3-foot area and flames cannot exceed 3 feet high. 
  • Smoking, unless in an enclosed building or vehicle, or in a space at least 3 feet in diameter that has been cleared of all flammable material.  
With the rollback of stage-two restrictions, some activities are once again allowed, including: 
  • Certain campfires and cooking fires, as allowed under stage-one restrictions.
  • Operating a vehicle off designated roads or trails, as otherwise allowed by land regulations. 
  • Discharging firearms.
  • Between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m., or "hoot-owl" hours: welding or operating a torch with a flame; using explosives; operating a chainsaw or any other equipment powered by an internal-combustion engine for wood cutting or gathering. 

Fireworks are always illegal on federal and state public lands.

A full copy of the county resolution, including all restrictions and exemptions, is available online with this story and from Jefferson County.

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