By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming’s wildfire outlook for the 2021 season is not a good one, according to the Wyoming State Forestry Division’s fire management officer.
However, Anthony Schultz did offer the caveat that while the outlook may seem bad now, there is a possibility nature could change its course and provide a rainy summer.
“Around 2017 or 2018, we were looking to have a pretty active fire season, but we ended up getting a lot of rain into June and July, so the fire season was muted,” Schultz told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “It wasn’t something heavily predicted, so we weren’t really expecting it.”
So although nature is a fickle beast and nothing about the coming summer season is certain,, Schultz said Wyoming and numerous other western states are trending toward having a drier, warmer fire season than normal, meaning there could be wildfires spreading throughout the state this summer.
Schultz noted that South Dakota, in particular, has already been seeing wildfires this year, such as the Schroeder Fire that closed Mount Rushmore last month.
The fire season in Wyoming usually begins around June, but is at its most dangerous in July and August, Schultz said, with fire restrictions across the state usually being fully lifted by the fall.
He added that for Wyoming, the southwestern corner of the state and the northeastern portion (including Sundance and Newcastle) could very likely see wildfires this season.
“The northeastern portion of the state hasn’t had a major fire season since about 2016, so it’s due for one,” Schultz said.
He reminded visitors and residents of Wyoming to remember to practice certain fire safety rules, such as fully extinguishing campfires when leaving a site.
Additionally, keeping trees trimmed and firewood away from a home will help keep down fire risk at a person’s home, he said.
“Use common sense measures, keep your home in a general sense of order, observe good campfire practices, all of these things will reduce our wildfire risk,” he said.