It’s getting a little warm out there.
And warm, in Wyoming’s summers, generally equals “dry” — which means that federal land managers are cautioning people to use caution when enjoying the outdoors during the upcoming holiday weekend.
In western Wyoming, the Shoshone National Forest implemented forest-wide “Stage 1” Fire Restrictions on June 25.
These restrictions allow campfires only in permanent fire rings that are installed and maintained by the U.S. Forest Service or U.S. Bureau of Land Management at developed recreation sites. The use of personal, portable fire pits and rings is banned for the time being.
The same restrictions are in place for public lands in at least 10 of Wyoming’s 23 counties: Campbell, Converse, Crook, Goshen, Johnson, Natrona, Niobrara, Platte, Sheridan and Weston.
The restrictions in Shoshone National Forest were adopted after officials measured moisture in vegetation and reviewed predicted weather conditions and fire activity in the region, according to forest Supervisor Lisa Timchak.
“With increasing fire danger, we are implementing these restrictions to protect public health and safety,” she said. “These fire restrictions will remain in place on the entirety of the Shoshone National Forest until further notice. Our fire managers will continue to monitor conditions and if they improve, we will reassess the restrictions.”
Of course, fireworks are a specific no-no any time of the year on federal lands, something to remember as the Fourth of July nears.
Violators of the rule can receive an expensive Independence Day present — a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, along with possible jail sentences.
Fuses, blasting caps, rockets, exploding targets, tracers and incendiary ammunition are also banned in any area under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions.
Other rules for areas under Stage 1 restrictions include a ban on smoking outside, unless the smoker is in a cleared area at least 3 feet in diameter. Chainsaws can only be operated if equipped with a spark arrestor and if a fire extinguisher is nearby. Welding is prohibited in an area that is not cleared for at least 10 feet around.
Almost 90% of all wildfires on public lands are started by humans. Anyone negligently or willfully starting a wildland fire could be held responsible for the costs of that fire.