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Mittry Lake, Avenue 7E reopens
The Mittry Lake area, including Avenue 7E and all boat launching ramps, has been reopened to the public. The recreation area has been closed since the Laguna Fire on May 18.
The fire burned 547 acres of riparian habitat along the Colorado River about 15 miles northeast of Yuma.
The Betty's Kitchen Watchable Wildlife Area, which was heavily damaged by the fire, remains closed indefinitely due to public safety issues, including the presence of “ash pits.”
“Ash pits are areas where trees have burned underneath the surface and have created a cavity underground that can stay hot for several weeks,” explained Michael Trent, fire management officer for the Bureau of Land Management. “When walked on, the cavity can cave in and cause serious burns.”
A large sign at Betty's Kitchen, a ramada, a wooden footbridge, some vegetation and a BLM water truck were burned during the wildfire.
A second ramada and bathrooms at the location were spared.
The ramada and footbridge had been restored by Chris Shiplet, a member of Venture Crew 8051 as an Eagle Scout project, and 60 other volunteers in September of 2009.
Now that the Laguna Fire has been dealt with, the BLM, Quechan Indian Tribe and Bureau of Indian Affairs are working together to rehabilitate the acres destroyed in the blaze.
BLM will submit a plan to the Department of the Interior to request funding from the Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation program to restore Betty's Kitchen Watchable Wildlife Area, and the 547 acres of wetland and marsh habitat lost in the fire.
As funding becomes available, BLM will seek volunteers from the local community to help with the rehabilitation effort.
As the fire is suspected of being manmade, BLM reminds the public to observe current and ongoing fire restrictions in effect on BLM public lands.
The restrictions include no fireworks, flares, incendiary devices, open campfires, charcoal grills, welding or the use of any torch or metal cutting implement.
Smoking is also restricted to enclosed buildings, within a vehicle and on a paved or surface road, within a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least six feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
Violations of these restrictions are punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months.
Campfires and charcoal grills are permitted in developed recreation sites or improved sites where agency-built fire rings or grills are provided.
The use of petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices is also allowed, provided such devices meet the fire underwriter's specifications for safety.