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A wildfire is currently burning in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.  The Medano Fire was ignited by lightning on June 6 and is located approximately four miles north of the park Visitor Center near Little Medano Creek.  It is now estimated at 450 acres.  At this time the fire is not posing any threats to park visitors or resources and is being managed for multiple objectives, with the safety of firefighters and the public being the top priority.  If the fire does begin to cause any threats, other management options may be used including full suppression.

The Medano Pass Road continues to be closed from Castle Creek to Medano Pass, as are all campsites along the road.  The Sand Ramp Trail is also closed at Castle Creek.  The rest of the park and preserve, including the sand dunes area, remains open to the public.  Smoke from the fire may be visible from the main park road, Visitor Center and Pinyon Flats campground.   General wind patterns have been pushing the smoke to the east away from the main public use areas of the park.

Winds and drier conditions today have caused the Medano Fire to become active again after rain and cooler temperatures last weekend slowed its growth.  The fire is now moving up the Medano Creek Drainage, along the Medano Pass Road.  At present it poses no threats to public safety.  Firefighters will be conducting burnout operations this evening to help protect a grove of Native American culturally modified trees.  With the forecasted dry and warm weather for the week, the fire is expected to continue its growth to the north and east, away from the main public access areas of the park and preserve.  It is being actively managed daily by firefighters who are trying to use natural features to confine and contain the fire whenever safely possible.

Superintendent Art Hutchinson stated, “As the Medano Fire continues to grow, the positive benefits it’s providing to the park and preserve’s ecosystem are growing too.  Its location away from most of the park’s main visitor attractions, especially the sand dunes, gives us the opportunity to manage it for these benefits while not compromising visitor safety.”

Please contact Public Information Officer Carol Sperling with any questions at 719-378-6341.