As Utahns begin planning summer vacations, the USDA Forest Service is encouraging people to be safe and prepared in public lands.
Maureen Brooks is the wildfire prevention program manager for the USDA Forest Service and said in 2020 there was an increase of 18 million visitors from the year before.
“It is important to have personal responsibility," she said. "As much as I enjoy the public spaces, I want somebody else to have that same experience.”
As people begin planning to spend time on public lands, the Forest Service is encouraging them to be aware of wildfire prevention and preparation to guarantee the safest trip.
Since nearly 9 in 10 wildfires are caused by humans, Brooks said it is important to be aware of restrictions and guidelines. Some big ways wildfires can be avoided is by making sure chains on vehicles and trailers are properly attached so they are not creating sparks, and having proper extinguishing equipment on hand.
“We always say, if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave," she said. "So make sure that fire is dead out.”
Brooks said enjoying public land safely overall includes checking for park and trail closures and planning ahead with restroom and trash facilities.
Another consideration she suggested is to beat the crowds and consider visiting during slower times, such as earlier in the morning.
Brooks said more tips and resources can be found at beoutdoorsafe.org.