Conrad Swanson reports from Colorado, where campfires, the enduring symbol of the American West and the great outdoors, are increasingly illegal.
“Gone are the days of explorers strolling into upstate Colorado, gathering kindling, and building a fire for dinner and maybe a s’more or two,” Swanson writes for the Denver Post.
“Despite the spring months, which have historically been a wet season, particularly as snowpack begins to melt, 24 of Colorado’s 64 counties and one Native American tribe reported Tuesday that at least some fire restrictions are in place,” Swanson reports.
Regulatory agencies use a metric called the energy release component (ERC) — basically the moisture levels in plants — to determine how hot a fire would burn and set campfire regulations accordingly. According to research and an expert cited in the source article, the ERC has increased by as much as 50 percent across the American West.
Both state and federal land managers are responsible for the bans, which have become commonplace as the threat of wildfires increases and the state seeks to protect not only its natural and built environment but also its $37 billion outdoor recreation economy .