Restrictions, Cancellations Announced for Lake County
“The ban is not due to fire conditions. The ban is due to possible inability to get mutual aid resources during the COVID-19 incident, in the event of a large fire.”
This statement from Lake County’s top law enforcement officer is likely to be the new touchstone of truth as emergency responders, healthcare workers and law enforcement agencies reassess their staff and resources and respond accordingly. As neighboring counties circle the wagons, many shared resources from fire fighting to search and rescue efforts hang in the balance. Not from a lack of compassion or commitment, but sheer necessity. In the present-day COVID-19 reality a zone defense is emerging, with officials intending to restrict people’s activity and movement. In theory, the action will limit the number of incidents that require first responders. It’s a tough call, but one Lake County is likely to see more of in the times ahead.
To that end, at 6 p.m. on April 9, Lake County Sheriff Amy Reyes announced a Stage Two Fire Ban. As stated in the notice, the burn restrictions pertain to ALL PUBLIC AND PRIVATE PROPERTY until further notice. The order is also signed by Leadville/Lake County Fire Chief Dan Dailey.
For most locals, the relevancy of the ban order points to Easter weekend and the lure of warmer weather for grilling, gathering, and outdoor recreation, all of which are restricted, starting with the Governor’s Stay-at-Home order which requires all Coloradans to stay at home unless they are engaged in certain necessary activities. Unfortunately, it’s a sanctioned guardrail that seems to be bending a bit in Lake County and people are taking notice. In a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org one regular reader expressed concerns about the number of visitors still coming into Lake County:
“I witnessed a huge amount of cars parked at Chalk Falls parking & roughly 20 or more people gathered together gearing up for a ski tour. Safeway has loads of vehicles that look to be on an adventure or camping trip. I mean….C’mon. . . I’m concerned for the well being of our at-risk population. Inaction could very well lead to health problems for our friends and loved ones, or even worse. . . I’m asking Leadville Today to please reach out publicly to our County Officials and ask what they are doing to discourage visitors from outside our community.” (FULL Letter)
One of the things that is being done involves a recent announcement from the US Forest Service (USFS) about the closure of several nearby, popular recreation sites. Amid growing concerns about the spread of the Coronavirus, the Forest Service has ordered new restrictions in the woods that they manage around Turquoise Lake, Twin Lakes and Halfmoon.
On April 8, Acting USFS Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien announced and signed an order to temporarily close developed recreation sites and an order to implement fire restrictions within the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region to align with local, state and federal orders and guidelines to protect public health and safety. The region includes 24 national forests and grasslands across Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.
“While we know that going outside provides forest and grassland visitors needed space, exercise and satisfaction, we are taking the risks presented by COVID-19 seriously,” said Eberlien in an email to Leadville Today. “We are providing some recreation opportunities where we can while protecting and keeping employees, the public and our communities safe from the virus, as well as protecting and keeping communities and natural and cultural resources safe from unwanted human-caused wildfires.”
Aside from the Regional Order for Developed Recreation Site closures there is also the Regional Order for Fire Restrictions, echoing the Stage Two in place for Lake County as stated above. The US Forest Service order remains in effect until May 31, 2020, or until rescinded, whichever occurs first. If you’re still not sure or have questions about certain activities, you can always call the Leadville Fire Department at 719-486-2990 or the Sheriff at 719-486-1249.
Turquoise Lake Road
Please note that Lake County Road and Bridge crews are still working and considered essential staff. Residents may have noticed that County Road 9c between the Leadville Junction and Sugar Loaf Dam has been plowed. However, there’s still lots of snow out that way and crews are continuing to work on clearing County Road 4, locally known as the Lake Road. Be advised it is CLOSED to traffic of any kind. If you ignore the order and get stuck, the charge for having the Leadville Winter Trails snowcat come and pluck you out is $500. After that, you can deal with the USFS. Please stay home, this recreation site and others noted in the order are closed.
Unfortunately on the heels of the present-day restriction news is the cancellation of several summer events. Yes, Leadvillites are feeling the pain of disappointment, but it comes with a stark reminder that while several positive COVID-19 tests have been returned to Lake County, and medical officials have confirmed that there is community spread of the disease, to date no one has died of the Coronavirus in this county. Certainly, social distancing, online learning, and the closing of non-essential businesses have brought a sense of alls-quiet-on-the-western-front. But for how long?
If COVID-19 is aiming to make the summer of 2020 memorable, it will be without the Lake County Veterans Memorial Service and KIA Motorcycle Ride held annually on Memorial Day Weekend. In a note to Leadville Today organizer Brad Palmer stated:
“In respect for our current day living situation with the COVID 19 Virus and the requested ‘Social Distancing’, I deeply regret the need to completely CANCEL this year’s Memorial Day Service and KIA Motorcycle Ride. Please take a moment or two during the Memorial Day weekend, to remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice which continues to allow Americans the freedoms we live by.”
UPDATE: On April 10, Leadville Today received the following announcement: The Tenth Mountain Foundation must join with the rest of the Leadville area community, as we announce that the Memorial Day ceremony will be cancelled this year. To all our friends, we ask that you stay home and stay safe, and we will all be together next year. We will miss you. Climb to Glory.
Two days later, the other boot dropped hard and heavy on Leadville’s Harrison Avenue. The cancellation of this summer’s Boom Days sent shockwaves through the Lake County community. Not, Boom Days!! Almost four months away from the April 9 announcement, the 71st ANNUAL celebration was scheduled to take place the first weekend in August as it has every year since 1949. The news ignited a firestorm of conversation on social media.
- Gary Salberg Having served on the Boom Days Committee for several years I understand the reasons for the cancellation. The amount of preparation and planning that each event chairperson has to go through is immense and intense and takes a huge personal commitment. Thank you Boom Days Committee for making a very difficult decision to be socially responsible. This situation is not going to be over anytime soon so we all have to do our part to aide in reducing the spread of this invisible killer.
- Teresa Rankin Wow – this has happened never… so sad.
- Fran Masterson they did the right thing, they need to plan in advance and it’s difficult when everything is up in the air. People’s lives and health are more important. Thank you Boom days committee for doing the right thing.
- Robbie Seibel I think it’s a very tough decision that the Boom Days Committee has made. I believe they are trying their best to protect Leadville and our community. Corona virus is a part of our world now and you bring up many valid points Aubrey. It is hard to say what subsequent waves will look like and we won’t know that until they start to hit. I think overall, this is the right decision. (Publisher’s note: Seibel is a well-respected Leadville immunization and environmental-health nurse).
As might be expected, the conversation rippled out from there, calling into question other public gatherings and events, most specifically the Leadville Race Series.
- Vicki Orton They should cancel the races, for the same reasons they cancelled all the other Boom Days activities, but not sure if the Boom Days committee is in charge of that.
- Spencer Smith I’m not disagreeing the races should be canceled this year. It’s just a shame some locals can’t accept they happen every year and what it does for our economy. I’m not saying they don’t come with downfalls, but those races are a highlight of Leadvilles grit.
- Lawson Cook having public safety concerns isn’t the same as not wanting a thriving economy.
- Spencer Smith I agree!! I think our county needs to do a better job at making sure the races are held accountable for some of our citizens complaints, and do a better job at making sure the races benefit the county every way possible and not just pad certain pockets. Working at the antique mall downtown I see first hand what it does for business. The bike race doesn’t do much for us but the runners are a different group and show more support for local shops. Hopefully them having this extra time will allow them to work out some kinks for future events.
Now that readers have weighed-in, Leadville Today is providing an update concerning race owner Braham Akradi’s remarks made in a nationally-televised interview on March 26. Here’s the original LT post (which has been updated), as well as the Facebook exchange and the email response from Life Time’s PR guy Jordan Titus.
But even with the clarification that the Leadville Race Series staff is not part of the LTF furlough, the Letter to “our beloved Leadville Family” appears a bit tone-deaf to residents’ concerned about their beloved family’s health. The main street question for the people that live here, the folks that HOST the events, is how the health of the Leadville community will be protected from the thousands of racers being brought in from around the world. Their first event is scheduled for June 16.
LT readers made their voices heard:
- Neil Ketting Now cancel the race series we don’t need a ton of people traveling here until we know more about immunity to this virus.
- Debby Lopez If they canceled the olympics surely they are canceling the race series where it brings people from everywhere.
- Shawna Riley If they dont cancel the trail 100 bike and run race im going to loose it boom days brought money into this town the bike race never does it just causes more traffic!!!!!
- Peter Raphael Faden This is a great opportunity for the “go back to wherever you came from ” crowd to suddenly change their tune. The lost revenue for this and presumably the 100 will be no joke, but on the flipside, less people will get sick and there is no doubt people around the nation and the world are feeling similarly constricted and helpless, be it health, economically, or what have you. So, we aren’t really alone in this.
- Brian Lott Should be 14 day Mandatory “home/residence” quarantine for anyone that travels here. (Same as many countries & states have now enacted. )
Clearly, the conversations continue. And while some corporate executives and elected officials may believe they have their fingers on the trigger of the start gun, the truth is nobody does. After all, the race against the Coronavirus is an event everyone is participating in, with their prayer flags flapping in the mountain breeze, hoping everyone living in Leadville Today makes it to the finish line.
Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today. She may be reached at email@example.com
COVID Reports from Leadville Today
Meanwhile, Leadville Today will continue to bring readers the latest news concerning the virus and its impact on Lake County. Here is a list of stories covered thus far about COVID – 19.
- Ready or Not? Preparedness in Pbville – March 10
- The Closures. The Plan. The Truth. – March 15
- Shelter (Food & Water) from the Storm – March 17
- The 411 on the 911 in the 80461 – March 19
- Mountain Medicine: Wisdom From Above – March 21
- Paper or Plastic: On the Frontlines – March 26
- Melly Masks: Made in Leadville – March 27
- Close Quarters: Cloud City Quarantine – March 29
- Racing In The Shadows of The Coronavirus – April 2
- Twin Lakes: In Times of Need – April 5
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