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Tips For Safely Recreating On Public Lands While Utah Is Under 'Extreme' Fire Danger


Utah is the second driest state in the country and currently suffering from a megadrought. Fire season is off to an early start since drier plants ignite easily and burn hot and fast— a combination that leads to wildfires that are especially difficult to contain.

Jennifer Hansen is a forest fire education/prevention specialist with the Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest and said this year Utah is seeing wildfire behavior and national resource depletion that typically isn’t seen until August.


Fire danger is divided into five levels nationally: low, moderate, high, very high and extreme. With Utah’s intense drought, much of the state is categorized as extreme. As people enjoy public lands this summer, Hansen urged Utahns to recreate responsibly. This means properly using maintained fire rings when on public lands to prevent a summer campfire from becoming a wildfire. 


“I see when I’m out patrolling a lot of people set up new fire rings," Hansen said. "And a lot of the time it's under the tree canopy. And so the concern with that is any spark hitting those lower branches, you have the fire and it’s curing those branches, and those pine needles or those leaves, even before one ember could pop out."


Hansen also recommended being careful with the kind of material you burn and making sure fires stay at a safe size. The bigger the material that you're burning, the higher flame length you're going to have. 


“For wildfire prevention we stress not to have your campfire higher than three feet," she said. "And it's really cute, because my son is seven years old, and he's right at that height. So when you're out with your families  look at that, look at that child, that seven year old child that is about that height.”


Right now Utah is implementing different stages of fire restrictions in the forests. The hope is people will be cautious and adhere to those guidelines so that public lands do not have to be closed because of fire danger. 

For More Information abour fire safety and risk reduciton:


Fire Restrictions Information - Active Fire Restriction Documents (

Fire Danger Risk Map (click on the 3rd tab) - Active Wildfires and Projects (

Utah’s Wildfire Prevention Campaign - Fire Sense (

Utah Drought Monitor - Utah | U.S. Drought Monitor (

Ellis Juhlin is a science reporter here at Utah Public Radio and a Master's Student at Utah State. She studies Ferruginous Hawk nestlings and the factors that influence their health. She loves our natural world and being part of wildlife research. Now, getting to communicate that kind of research to the UPR listeners through this position makes her love what she does even more. In her free time, you can find her outside on a trail with her partner Matt and her goofy pups Dodger and Finley. They love living in a place where there are year-round adventures to be had!