(Recreate Responsibly Idaho Press Release, June 27, 2023)
STATEWIDE – After a cool, wet spring, Summer 2023 is here and the public is expected to head outdoors in potentially record numbers due to Idaho’s growing population. Recreate Responsibly Idaho (RRI) is reminding campers and outdoor recreationists to use extra care particularly in southern Idaho where wildfires were reported over the weekend. One of them, the Mile Marker 85 Highway 51 Fire, burned more than 200 acres of grass and sagebrush about six miles south of Mountain Home before containment.
Fireworks and recreation risks: Each year, fire officials see a spike in human-caused wildfires, particularly around the Fourth of July weekend, most often from unattended campfires, fireworks, dragging tow chains, driving on dry grass, and improper disposal of hot ashes and barbecue coals. On average, 80% of wildfires are caused by humans.
Concerns for Summer 2023: A wet spring in Idaho caused grasses and plants to grow tall, creating an abundance of fuels. Now rangelands and forests are starting to dry out which increases wildfire risk.
“Please remember that all fireworks – and even the possession of fireworks – are prohibited on federal public lands, regardless of weather conditions or if a person believes they are using fireworks safely,” said Recreate Responsibly Idaho Campaign Coordinator Robbie Johnson. “Recreate Responsibly Idaho is here to support the public with resources, guides, and reminders that we all must do our part to stay vigilant to avoid the destruction of catastrophic wildfire.”
Resources to prepare for the holiday weekend
Know before you go – Check the BLM Idaho Fire Information website at https://www.idahofireinfo.com/ and the Idaho Department of Lands Fire Information and Resources website at https://www.idl.idaho.gov/fire-management/ for wildland fire information near your destination.
Drown your campfire – Make sure your fire is “dead out” and cold to the touch before leaving your campsite or going to bed. Keep your campfire small and use a designated campfire ring when available and permissible.
Leave fireworks at home – Fireworks are prohibited on federal public lands. During closed fire season (May 10 to October 20), it is illegal to throw away any lighted material, including firecrackers or fireworks on any forest or rangeland in the state of Idaho (Idaho Code 38-117). Starting a wildfire with the use of fireworks is considered negligence, and the person who started the fire could be billed for the cost of fighting the fire (Idaho Code 38-107).
Don’t be the spark – Do not drive or park on dry grass. Hot exhaust pipes or sparks can start a fire. This applies to off-highway vehicles and personal vehicles.
Check your chains – When pulling a trailer, be sure safety chains and other metal parts aren’t hanging from your vehicle as these can drag and cause sparks.
Recreate Responsibly Idaho (RRI) partners have worked for several years to inform and remind recreationists statewide about best practices when it comes to putting out campfires, fire safety in general, ATV, UTV and Off-Highway vehicle use, proper etiquette at boat ramps, water and lifejacket safety, minding your wake on lakes, rivers and reservoirs, and more. These efforts empower individuals to recreate responsibly with the support of Idaho businesses, outdoor and conservation organizations, government agencies, and all who love Idaho.
The RRI outreach team includes the Bureau of Land Management, U.S.D.A Forest Service, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, Idaho Department of Lands, Idaho Department of Commerce, Idaho Department of Transportation, and the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission.
New this season: We are inviting the public to let us know when there is an issue and encourage proper use of Idaho’s outdoors. Recreate Responsibly Idaho’s Show and Tell Summer campaign provides an easy way for the public to simply take a picture of an issue, use a QR code to upload the image, and provide a location. Pictures of recreating the right way are also encouraged, as it helps remind people to recreate responsibly.