By Kelsey Keener
Multiple state and federal land management agencies have put fire restrictions into place for southern Utah as a result of dry and windy conditions.
The following activities are now prohibited: building a campfire, unless in a developed recreation site; the use of fireworks on unincorporated private land; the use of any combustion engine without a spark arresting device; detonating explosives; cutting, welding or grinding metal in areas with dry vegetation; smoking, unless in an enclosed vehicle or building, or developed recreation site.
Some of the restrictions are always in place on federals lands, but all these restrictions now apply to any lands under the management of the National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service or Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands in the following counties: Iron, Beaver, Kane, Garfield and Washington Counties.
These lands include the Pine Valley, Cedar City, Powel and Escalante Ranger Districts of the Dixie National Forest, as well as several national parks and monuments.
Forest Fire Management Officer Kevin Greenhalgh said these restrictions have been put into place as preventative measures due to current and forecasted conditions in southern Utah.
“Putting fire restrictions into place now is a preventative measure in anticipation of those conditions becoming worse,” he said. “It helps us get that message across and get people to start thinking along the lines of it being a lot drier than it is right now.”
In addition to these restrictions, the Oak Grove Campground and parts of Forest Roads #032, #031 and #037 will also be closed. With the high risk of fire in the area and only one access road, public safety in the event of a forest fire is concerning.
Greenhalgh recommends remaining aware of surroundings and keeping manageable fires for those recreating in southern Utah to reduce the risk of wildfires.
“The biggest thing, it sounds fairly simple, but really it’s looking and being aware of your surroundings,” he said. “If you’re in a campground using those developed sites, you still want to pay attention. Don’t overload your fire pits; don’t make the big bonfires that are throwing a lot of sparks and embers out. Just keep your fires manageable.”
These restrictions will be in place for the duration of the summer. Those with questions about these restrictions are encouraged to call any office of the agencies with land affected by these restrictions.