Andreas F. Borchert / Creative Commons

This summer marks 15 years since two significant wildfires in the region: the Long Mesa Fire in Mesa Verde National Park and the Missionary Ridge Fire outside of Durango both occured in 2002. It also marks five years since the 2012 Weber Fire outside of Mancos. Each of these fires burned thousands of acres, and they encouraged people to reflect on resiliency in the face of the destruction that wildfires can bring.

AgriLife Today / Creative Commons

A cold front approaching from the West will mean strong winds and high fire danger in lower elevations of west-central and Southwest Colorado on Tuesday.

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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.