A dry winter and one of the warmest springs on record has experts worried about the potential of wildfires on Utah’s West Desert. The Bureau of Land Management is issuing restrictions on BLM lands in Salt Lake, Utah, Tooele, Rich and Box Elder Counties.
Year-round restrictions include fireworks, exploding targets, tracer and ammunition, sky lanterns or similar devices, and operating off-highway vehicles without spark arresters. West Desert Fire Management Officer Justin Kincaid says the BLM is working to educate outdoor enthusiasts on fire safety.
“The more work we can do on the human component and encouraging people to be safe and careful when they’re out recreating, it sure goes a long way for us,” Kincaid said.
The invasive cheat grass in West Desert provides easy fuel for wildfires, but Kincaid said restrictions have worked in the past.
“We have seen a dramatic decrease in fires over the years by utilizing the prevention mechanism,” said Kincaid.
Preventing wildfires is important, but Kincaid wants the public to be safe as well.
“We want folks to go out and recreate and have a good time,” Kincaid said. “But pay attention to dragging chains on their RV’s and pulling trailers, checking tires for that condition. Often times we see blow-outs while pulling trailers and even in vehicles. Once that rim strikes the ground it ignites the grass on the side of the road. We can see large fire growth in a rapid timeframe with large acreages and a lot of things potentially burning up with those types of activities happening.”
Kincaid recommends keeping water, a shovel and a fire extinguisher handy.