SALT LAKE CITY — Due to extreme drought and wildfire danger, Utah agencies have issued statewide stage one fire restrictions effective starting at midnight on June 10.
The heightened restrictions include a tight limit on where open fires are allowed and limits other activities on state and private lands outside of city or town limits. The order does not impact private lands in incorporated towns or city limits.
Under the order, smoking is prohibited except in an enclosed space or vehicle, a developed recreation site or in a place that is free from dry vegetation.
Cutting, welding or grinding metal in areas of dry vegetation is also not allowed under the new restrictions.
In addition, operating a motorcycle, ATV, chainsaw or other small engine without a working spark arrestor is prohibited.
Officials are calling on the public to be responsible and report any violations to local law enforcement. People violating the restrictions could face up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
The order comes after a statewide restriction was issued on fireworks for all state and unincorporated lands.
The State of Utah, Department of Natural Recourses, Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands says these restrictions are completely necessary as fire crews work to battle multiple wildfires around Utah.
“As we’ve seen these most recent wildfires, it is clear that fire danger is higher than in any year in recent memory, said Interim Division Director, Jamie Barnes in a press release. “Although it’s unprecedented and comes earlier than any time in the past several years, it’s absolutely necessary now because current conditions are more indicative of what we’d see during late summer months.”
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is also temporarily banning campfires and recreational target shooting with a firearm on its 146 wildlife management areas (WMAs) across the state.
Wildlife management areas help minimize and mitigate wildlife depredation on private property, and are vital to providing important winter ranges and feeding grounds for many wildlife species, including big game. These lands are purchased and managed using the money generated by fishing and hunting license sales.
Because wildfires can destroy essential wildlife habitat, this temporary ban will protect Utah’s wildlife management areas.
“Significant resources go toward improving the habitat in these wildlife and waterfowl management areas to make them more beneficial for a variety of wildlife species, which is why these proactive, preventative measures are so important,” DWR Director Rory Reynolds said. “Protecting these resources from wildfire is crucial for wildlife and is a huge benefit for anglers, hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts who utilize these properties.”
Effective immediately and until fire conditions improve, target shooting with firearms is not allowed on any WMAs, except for in the established shooting range areas on the following three WMAs:
- Big Hollow WMA
- Fillmore WMA
- Hobble Creek WMA
The temporary restriction only applies to target shooting with a firearm on the WMAs — legal possession of a firearm and hunting are not affected.
Campfires of any kind, including portable fire pits, are not allowed on any of the WMAs during the temporary ban. Fireworks and explosives are never allowed on any WMA in Utah.
Statewide fire restriction information and wildfire prevention tips can be found here.