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Health officials are warning area residents to be careful handling rodents after a case of tularemia was confirmed in a rabbit in Montezuma County. Sometimes called “rabbit fever”, tularemia is a bacterial disease often found in beavers and small rodents as well as rabbits. It can be transmitted to humans by ticks, fleas, or deer flies, through cuts in the skin when handling infected animals, by drinking contaminated water, or by inhaling dust carrying the bacteria. Usually occurring in warmer months, it can be serious but is very treatable with antibiotics.

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No adverse effects were noted from the Long Draw Fire in Dolores County near Lone Mesa State Park. Dolores District Ranger Derek Padilla and fire management officer Patrick Seekins told the Montezuma County commissioners Monday the lightning-sparked blaze is believed to be out except for occasional wisps of smoke. After it was reported June 21st at about 8,200 feet in elevation, the fire was managed and monitored by the Forest Service but allowed to burn to clear out forest litter and Gambel oak.

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If you’re hoping to have any fires over the Fourth of July holiday, a campfire in the mountains may be your best bet, and if you want to see fireworks, you should probably go to a town display. All non-public land in Montezuma County and almost all land in southeastern Utah will be under increased fire restrictions for the holiday weekend and beyond, and federal lands do not allow fireworks at any point during the year.

Last week, the Montezuma County commissioners enacted a county-wide ban on fireworks and open burning in the wake of the Sage Hen fire near Dolores.

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Soaring temperatures, gusty winds and dry lightning have contributed to a number of small wildfires across the region, and a new report says the San Juan Basin emitted the most methane per well in the country in 2014.

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US Fish and Wildife Service / Creative Commons

Recent wet weather has pushed back plans for prescribed fires in the Dolores District of the San Juan National Forest until this fall. The fire management officer for the district, Pat Seekins, says that planned prescribed burns in the Haycamp Mesa and Lake Canyon areas now will likely have to wait until mid-September or October because of the moisture. The agency does not conduct prescribed burning in the summer.

National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day

May 2, 2016
U.S. Forest Service / Creative Commons

National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day is coming up on Saturday, May 7th, a time when we can all learn how to increase safety for both residents and wildland firefighters in the event of a fire.

Anthony Citrano / Creative Commons

In the third of KSJD's four-part spring series on wildfire preparedness, Tom Yoder talks with Rebecca Samulski, Montezuma Chapter Coordinator for Firewise of Southwest Colorado, about evacuation plans, initial steps in creating defensible space around property, and what to do if you plan an agricultural burn.

Shaun Stanley / Durango Herald

When the Weber Fire broke out in June of 2012, some property owners in the path of the wildfire were in the unique position of waiting to see how their wildfire mitigation efforts from years before would work. In the second of KSJD's four-part series on wildfire preparedness, KSJD's Tom Yoder talks with Philip Walters and Jeff Schaffer about their personal stories from the Weber Fire, and how they ultimately ended up with national awards for their wildfire mitigation efforts.

The Wildfire Season Outlook for 2016

Apr 4, 2016
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Despite a relatively wet winter the reality of wildfires is still something we all need to be prepared for as the 2016 fire season quickly approaches. In the first of KSJD's four-part series on wildfire preparedness, Tom Yoder talks with Rebecca Samulski, Montezuma Chapter Coordinator for Firewise of Southwest Colorado, about current wildfire conditions and how land owners can start planning now to ensure they are ready in the event of a wildfire near their homes and other property.