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BTNF reminds campers to camp responsibly

JACKSON, Wyo. — The Bridger-Teton National Forest Service (BTNF) has seen a huge increase in newly created dispersed campsites and fire rings in areas the are not durable surfaces.

BTNF said on their Facebook that creating these fire rings “can cause long term resource damage to our public lands and is a potential fire hazard.”

Mary Cernicek, Public Affairs Officer for BTNF said, “These impacts degrade natural forest settings and natural environments. Additional impacts include ‘beat out’ compacted areas around campfires, limbs broken off all the trees in the vicinity, sterile soil underneath the fire, and a general scarcity of firewood throughout the area.”

For fuel, BTNF asks that visitors only use dead wood that has already fallen down.

“I know many of us have seen ugly campfire rings: rings of rocks, unburned pieces of wood, ashes, metal, and glass and trash partially burned, and scorched rocks,” Cernicek said.

BTNF says that the best way to minimize the effects of your campfire is to not have one at all. For cooking, small gasoline or propane stoves can work even better.

“Keep the fire small. Bonfires are for football rallies, not for camping,” Cernicek stated. “Even large groups will not have huge roaring bonfires if they truly care about preserving the integrity of the natural setting.”

Fire Danger

Even after the fire danger increased to high over a week ago, reports of abandoned campfires are still coming in and actually increasing.

Hot temperatures and dry, windy conditions, combined with summer vegetation curing, increase the potential for fire activity.

Open fires are not permitted in many fragile environments or during periods of extreme fire danger. Using an existing fire ring prevents additional damage.

A self-made fire pit has left its mark on the landscape, damaging nearby vegetation. Photo: BTNF

A high fire danger rating means fires can start easily and spread quickly. Unattended campfires and brush fires are likely to escape. Fires can become serious and difficult to control unless they are quickly extinguished.

In areas where campfires are allowed, fires should never be unattended and must be completely extinguished. The charred remains of a campfire must be repeatedly doused with water and stirred into the campfire ring in order to be completely extinguished. All embers and logs should be broken up. Campers should “cold trail” the remains of the fire, which refers to carefully placing the back of your hand near the ashes and campfire debris to feel for any remaining heat before leaving the site.

Suggestions for camping areas that are full

If the area you are looking at camping is full, check out some of the options near Kemmerer, Big Piney, and Greys River as they have more vacancies.

Steps for having a safe fire:

  • Keep your campfire small. Only burn a few large pieces of wood at any one time.
  • Only burn vegetation (twigs, branches, small diameter logs, purchased firewood, etc.) that fits in the fire ring.
  • Don’t put trash, aluminum cans, glass, plastic, etc. into the fire ring.
  • Always have someone watching the fire, looking for where stray embers travel and land.
  • Consider not having a campfire during times of high fire danger or if you don’t have appropriate firewood sources, water, shovel, etc. Stay informed of fire restrictions and follow all guidelines.

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