It's not a fire season-ending event, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

Effective Friday at 12:01 a.m., Mesa County will be moving from Stage 2 fire restrictions back to Stage 1 restrictions. That simply means, moving forward, there will be fewer restrictions and there are some things that will now be allowed.

Specifically, Stage 1 Fire fire restrictions will impact you in this way.

* Use of charcoal grills will be permitted.
* Campfires will be allowed inside designated and developed fire pits or fire rings, including private residences.
* Outdoor smoking is still not allowed in open areas except inside a closed vehicle, a developed recreation area, or in an area at least 6 feet wide that is free of combustible materials.
* Open burning of yard waste and fields is still prohibited except for agricultural burns with a permit.
* Fireworks are not allowed under Stage 1 restrictions.
* Wood fires are never allowed on the Colorado National Monument

According to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, the recent rain in the Grand Valley combined with shorter days, and longer, cooler nights, the extreme fire danger has improved enough to allow for the return to Stage 1 restrictions. Several factors are considered when it comes to implementing fire restrictions including the moisture content in vegetation, weather outlook, human risk factors, and firefighting resource availability.

Recently, Mesa County has received more than an inch of precipitation, which has improved conditions, but we are still experiencing extreme drought and there's no immediate relief in sight. Authorities are urging everyone to remain cautious and vigilant in the coming weeks because wildfires are still possible this fall.

These restrictions apply to all of Mesa County, including the Colorado National Monument and BLM administered public lands. Land managed by the U.S. Forest Service, including the Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre National Forests, remains in Stage 1 Fire Restrictions.

After what we experienced this summer with the Pine Gulch Fire here in Mesa County, I think everyone realizes how critically important it is to continue to be extremely cautious when it comes to using fire outdoors, especially in grassy areas. The fire danger is still high. However, we can be grateful for the reduced restrictions as we move into fall, and we'll take every bit of good news we can get

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