By Ben Olson
Despite the cooling temperatures and smoky skies this week, drought conditions and extreme fire danger levels continue to persist in North Idaho. These conditions prompted officials to raise fire restrictions to Stage 2 on Wednesday. The restrictions will remain in effect until further notice.
The increased restrictions are being implemented for all state, federal and private forestland in Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai, Shoshone and Latah Counties, which includes the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.
Under Stage 2 restrictions, any open fire, including a campfire or stove fire, is prohibited on restricted private, state and federally managed lands, roads and trails. Persons using a fire of stove fire fueled solely by LPG fuels may be used in an area clear of flammable material.
Smoking is prohibited except within an enclosed vehicle or building or a designated recreation site. Persons may smoke while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren of all flammable materials.
Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails is prohibited, which includes the use of ATVs, UTVs and pickups.
Operating a chainsaw or any other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine associated with firewood gathering, blasting welding or other activities that generate flame or flammable material, or using an explosive is prohibited from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Possession or use of fireworks is always prohibited on federal lands. There are exceptions to all land within a city boundary.
Please visit www.idahofireinfo.com/p/fire-restrictions.html for a detailed map and current information regarding fire restrictions, or call the Sandpoint Ranger District at (208) 263-5111.