Forest officials: ‘Know Before You Go’ this holiday weekend

By Reader Staff

With the Fourth of July holiday approaching, public land managers across the Idaho Panhandle want to remind visitors that fireworks, and the possession of fireworks, are prohibited on federal public lands, regardless of weather conditions or holidays. Exploding targets and other pyrotechnic devices, such as Tannerite, are also prohibited on federal public lands in Idaho administered by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. 

Photo courtesy Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Drought conditions, unseasonably hot temperatures and high fire danger levels are affecting many parts of northern Idaho. The National Weather Service office in Spokane describes this week as “likely [to] be one of the most extreme and prolonged heat waves in the recorded history of the Inland Northwest [that] will make our region increasingly vulnerable to wildfires and intensify the impacts of our ongoing drought.”

Each year, fire officials see a spike in human-caused wildfires, particularly around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends, most often from unattended campfires, fireworks, dragging tow chains, driving on dry grass and improper disposal of hot ashes and BBQ coals.  To date, in the five northern counties of the Idaho Panhandle, there have been 88 wildfires, 76 of which were human-caused. Please remember these fire prevention tips when visiting ALL public lands:

Know before you go: Check online ( or call about any fire restrictions or closures before venturing out. Several areas around Idaho are in or entering fire restrictions, which limit the use of fire.

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 the 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 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)

Don’t be the spark: Do not drive or park on dry grass. Hot exhaust pipes or sparks can start a fire.

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.

Land management agencies are committed to a balanced fire program that will reduce risks and realize benefits of fire at the right time and place. Prescribed fire and fires for resource benefit are managed under very strict criteria, when both the science and resource availability align. Unfortunately, human-caused fires in populated areas and the wildland-urban interface are most commonly responsible for evacuations and property damage. This holiday weekend and always, do your part to prevent human-caused starts. Don’t let your summer go up in smoke.

See more wildfire prevention and preparedness tips at:

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