If you are an experienced camper or a new one, it never hurts to recap some do’s and don’ts when building a fire in the forest. And please, before heading out, check for location restriction and alerts at Sawtooth National Forest – Alerts & Notices
Around 50% of the approximate 45 fires each year in the SNRA are human-caused. Dry conditions mixed with lightning makes up the rest.
Of those ignited by humans, the causes range from sparks thrown by vehicles, fireworks, smoking, and of course, campfires- to name just a few. All of which are preventable. The numbers rise every year as visitors to our national forests increase.
Please take the necessary precautions to keep the forest, wildlife, visitors, and emergency personnel out of harm’s way.
Should you build a fire?
It can be part of a camping tradition, but perhaps now would be a good time to think about an alternate heat source. Propane camp stoves have come a long way. And yes, it’s still possible to make s’mores! And just think- no searching for/buying/hauling wood. Remember- don’t bring firewood from home. Buy it from a local source or gather where allowed.
If you absolutely must build a fire, here are a few things to check first:
- What are the current restrictions/guidelines for the campsite?
- Is there a suitable fire ring? – only build fires in designated areas.
- Do you have a way to completely extinguish a fire when finished? Think shovel, bucket, and water.
More than a quarter of a mile off-trail from July 1st through Labor Day at:
- Alice/Twin Lakes
- Toxaway/Farley Lakes
- Goat Creek (tributary of the South Fork of the Payette River)
- Alpine Creek
Campfires are not allowed within 200 yards of:
- Sawtooth Lake
- Goat Lake and Alpine Lake near Iron Creek
- Alpine and Saddleback Lakes in the Redfish drainage
- Scenic Lakes
- You don’t need a huge bonfire. Keep the size manageable.
- Watch pets and children closely.
- Do not put dangerous items like combustibles, and toxic items into the fire. The same goes for items that do not burn -like glass and aluminum. Wood pallets are also problematic as they leave behind nails, so please stick to untreated, natural burning items. This is not a garbage dump.
- Never leave it unattended.
- Allow the wood to burn to ash if possible.
- Douse with water, stir the ashes, and ember with a shovel. Everything should be wet and cold to the touch. Dirt can also be used in place of water. Do not BURY the fire.
Other preventable causes
- Keep chains from dragging, worn brakes can also cause sparks.
- Don’t park a hot vehicle in dry grass/brush.
- Carry a fire extinguisher.
Fireworks and explosives
Fireworks and explosives (including firing of guns) are prohibited in the Sawtooth National Forest- Any type, any kind. Just don’t do it. Violators can expect to face steep penalties/fines/jail-time if charged.
We can all do our part to decrease the number of fires this year. Be smart, and happy camping!