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Potential Loss Of Winter Range To Fire Prompts IDFG To Ban Campfires On All Department Administered

IDAHO FALLS- The increasing danger of wildfires, coupled with the recent burning of over 1,000 acres of critical deer winter range near Ririe Reservoir, has prompted local IDFG Officials to institute an immediate ban on all campfires on all lands administered in the Upper Snake Region, including all Wildlife Management Areas (WMA's) and access sites. This order supplements an existing Stage 1 Restriction put into place by Federal and State land management agencies on July 17. Current weather conditions have tinder box conditions across the intermountain West. While lightening strikes are the leading cause of wildfires, human activities such as campfires, fireworks and off-road vehicles cause a significant amount of problems. The cause of the recent fire near Blacktail Boat Ramp on Ririe Reservoir is still under investigation, but it is likely that it was caused by human activities. IDFG operates its wildlife management areas primarily to provide habitat for wildlife, but human activities such as hunting, fishing, and camping are allowed at other times of the year. According to Regional Habitat Manager Steve Schmidt, "Given the current fire conditions, Regional Supervisor Don Wright met with his habitat staff to determine the most proactive course of action possible to help prevent loss of key wildlife habitat to fire." Areas that provide winter habitat to deer, elk, moose, and sage grouse are of real concern to IDFG. According to Schmidt, "People also need to remember to do as little off-road driving as possible and check under vehicles for dry vegetation that could be ignited by a hot exhaust system." Under Stage I restrictions cigarette smoking is restricted to inside of vehicles while on lands covered by the order. In addition to these restrictions and precautions, outdoor recreationalists should also be sure to have a shovel, folding bucket and fire extinguisher in their vehicles. For further information about campfire restrictions at WMA's in the Upper Snake Region contact the regional office in Idaho Falls at 525-7290.