Two Boise-area national forests and a handful of other agencies announced Tuesday that they would implement fire restrictions by the end of the week thanks to worsening wildfire conditions across Idaho.
According to a news release shared by the Payette National Forest, agencies including the Idaho Department of Lands, Bureau of Land Management, Southern Idaho Timber Protective Association and U.S. Forest Service will enact Stage I Fire Restrictions on July 16. The restrictions will apply in the Boise and Payette fire restriction areas, which surround the Boise and McCall areas. Maps of both areas can be found online at www.IdahoFireInfo.com.
The announcement comes as Idaho Gov. Brad Little pleaded with the public to prevent wildfires, citing extensive drought, waning resources and excessive heat that could converge to create a devastating wildfire season.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, Stage I restrictions affect what sort of fires recreators can have and where those fires can be built. Under the restrictions, open campfires are banned on dispersed camping sites and are only permitted in permanent fire structures — concrete or metal fire rings — typically found at developed campsites.
People camping at dispersed sites can use liquid fuel stoves, like portable camping stoves, said Payette National Forest spokesperson Brian Harris in an email to the Idaho Statesman. People should still clear the area around portable stoves of any potentially flammable material.
The restrictions also extend to smoking, which is banned except in enclosed areas, like vehicles or buildings, or on designated recreation sites, like campgrounds or day-use sites. Smoking is also allowed in areas with a three-foot diameter clear of any flammable materials.
Harris said the restrictions have been implemented earlier than usual.
“We typically enter into fire restriction in mid- to late August and in many years do not have fire restrictions,” he said. “The danger is real and widespread this year and at least a month early.”
Parts of North Idaho have already progressed to Stage II restrictions, which ban all fires (except liquid or gas stoves) in any location, including developed campsites. The Sawtooth National Forest implemented Stage I restrictions at the beginning of the month. Information on fire restrictions statewide can be found on the Idaho Department of Lands website at idl.idaho.gov.