With near record temperatures heading into the Fourth of July weekend, grass and other vegetation from the valleys to the mountains are drying out and the risk of fires is heightened. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is reminding users of federal forest and rangelands, state endowment lands and department-managed lands and access sites, that fireworks and exploding targets are prohibited.
If you plan to enjoy the outdoors during the Fourth of July holiday and beyond this summer, be extremely cautious, and leave the fireworks at home. People should also be aware that some municipal and county governments in Idaho have banned fireworks this year – including on private lands – due to fire risk, and they should check with their local government for more information.
Possessing and/or using fireworks on federal public lands is strictly prohibited. During closed fire season (May 10 to October 20), it is illegal to throw away any lighted material, including fire crackers or fireworks on any forest or rangeland in the State of Idaho (Idaho Code 38-117). Starting a wildfire by the use of fireworks is considered negligence, and the person who started the fire will be billed for the cost of fighting the fire (Idaho Code 38-107).
According to Sal Palazzolo, Statewide Wildlife Habitat Manager for Idaho Fish and Game, the department’s regulations prohibit the use of fireworks or explosives at any time. These regulations cover not only lands owned by Fish and Game, such as Wildlife Management Areas, but also department-managed access sites, including Access Yes! and "Large Tracts" properties.
“One person’s negligence can close down a large area for the year, destroying critical habitat for wildlife, recreational opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen, and impact the livelihood of the property owners,” Palazzolo said. “We are asking people to follow the rules and think before acting.”
The definition of explosives covers the use of explosive targets and incendiary rounds, such as tracers. Some individuals have also been known to shoot at propane and other fuel containers to watch them explode. The fire hazard that results from such shooting is a concern, such that this activity is also not allowed.
Fish and Game is also urging people recreating outdoors this summer to be responsible with campfires, and be aware of other common sources of human-caused wildfires.
When heading to the backcountry, here are a few things to remember:
- Leave fireworks home - fireworks are prohibited on most public lands
- Park vehicles on areas clear of vegetation
- Confine campfire to developed sites
- Be careful with campfires and make sure they are out before leaving or going to bed
- Check and make sure ATVs and motorcycles have spark arresters that are in good working order
- Cigarettes and other smoking materials should be extinguished in appropriate disposal places and not thrown out of vehicle windows
For more information on fire danger, call your local U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or the Idaho State Lands Department office