Fire restrictions at Big Horn Canyon

Staff members at the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area have been busy this week and would like to inform the public of several opportunities for public participation and fire restriction updates.

Over the last two weeks, the Big Horn Canyon area has experienced extreme fire danger and red flag warnings. Because of this, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area has implemented Stage 2 Fire Restrictions in the park under the authority of 16 U.S.C. Section 3 and Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Chapter 1, Parts 1-7 and the Compendium of Superintendent’s Orders as established for Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The specific authority for this regulatory procedure is found in Sections 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7 of Title 36.

These fire restrictions are being put in place immediately due to the following factors:

• 1,000 hour fuel moisture content is in the 90th percentile or above.

• Three-day mean Energy Release Component (ERC) is at the 90th percentile or above, in the unit’s representative fuel model.

• Live fuel moisture content is 75 percent or less.

• Available local and national resources are in high demand for active fires in Wyoming and throughout the western region of the United States.

• An existing long-term drought with less than 75 percent of average moisture.

• Predictable weather forecasts indicate continued hot and dry conditions for the area.

This designation is consistent with other agencies in the area that have implemented similar restrictions. These restrictions will be enforced in both districts of the park based out of Ft Smith, Mont., and Lovell to maintain consistency with park regulations.

Under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions, the following activities in the park are prohibited:

1. Lighting, building, maintaining, attending or using a campfire or other open flame fire unless noted in the exemptions below.

Exemptions:

• A fire solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels is permitted provided there is an on/off valve and such devices are used in an area that is barren or cleared of all surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the device.

• Smoking is permitted within an enclosed vehicle or building (unless otherwise prohibited), a developed campground site or in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials (e.g., paved parking lot).

• The use of acetylene cutting torches or electric arc welders is permitted in cleared areas 10 feet in radius, with a chemically pressurized fire extinguisher at hand of not less than eight ounces capacity.

• Persons with a signed written permit that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act.

• Any federal, state or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.

• Persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized in writing.

Violations of the fire restrictions may be punishable by fines or imprisonment as provided by law. You may be held liable for all suppression and restoration costs if you start a fire.

Bighorn Canyon NRA is also soliciting public comment for the Superintendent’s Compendium. The rules and regulations that the National Park Service enforced in all National Parks come from 36 CFR. These rules and regulations are written in broad terms and each park is a little different, but the basic rules for the Park Service are the same. The Superintendent’s Compendium helps to clarify regulations and make them more specific to each park.

This document clarifies everything from pets on leash to permitting to boat operation regulations and fire restrictions at Big Horn Canyon. Those who wish to comment on the 2012 Superintendent’s Compendium may enter comments online at the National Park Service website Planning, Environment and Public Comment site (http://parkplanning.nps.gov/) or may mail comments to Kevin Tillman, Chief Ranger at Bighorn Canyon NRA, PO Box 7548, Fort Smith, MT 59035, or email comments to Kevin_Tillman@nps.gov.

The 2012 Superintendent’s Compendium will be on public review for 30 days, ending July 27, 2012. Names and addresses of people who comment become part of the public record. Park Service personnel will make all submissions from organizations, businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses available for public inspection in their entirety. Those who wish the NPS to withhold their name and/or address must state this at the beginning of the comment.

 

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