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UPDATE: Hiawatha National Forest rescinds ban on charcoal grills, campfire use

The restrictions are being lifted due to recent rain events and higher humidity.
A campfire and the U.S. National Forest Service logo.
A campfire and the U.S. National Forest Service logo.(WLUC/USFS Ottawa National Forest)
Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 4:24 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2021 at 3:19 PM EDT
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GLADSTONE, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE June 30: Due to recent rain and increased humidity, The Hiawatha National Forest has rescinded the current forest order that restricted the building, maintaining, attending or use of a fire or campfire except those in Forest Service provided and maintained fire rings and prohibited the use of charcoal grills (Forest Order R9-10-21-02).

These stage 1 fire restrictions are being lifted due to recent rain events and higher humidity.

We ask visitors to continue to be diligent about campfire safety, particularly as you plan your trip to the Hiawatha National Forest this Fourth of July holiday. Please remember that possessing, igniting, discharging or using any kind of fireworks is prohibited on National Forest System lands

A good rule of thumb is to Know Before You Go! You can check the current fire danger through the Great Lakes Fires and Fuels website, as well as the U.S. Drought monitor for the Midwest website. For all outdoor burning, including campfires, be sure to check the MI-DNR burn permit web-based map prior to lighting any brush or debris piles. And, check out Smokey Bear’s tips to help keep your fire contained and controlled.

Keep your fire small and stay away from using flammable liquids like gasoline to start your fire. When you’re done, cool your coals. Allowing your fire to burn down to white ash and stirring the coals can release trapped heat that will keep your campfire hot. Then Drown, Stir, Feel, repeat, until your fire is dead out and cold to the touch. Popping, crackling and hissing indicate the fire is still hot, you should continue to add water and stir until you can touch the coals, making sure they are cold to the touch.

Remember to fully extinguish your campfire before going to bed or leaving your site. Unattended campfires risk wildfires. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

While visiting the Forest or any of your public lands, please remember to recreate responsibly.

ORIGINAL STORY: Due to worsening fire danger conditions, the Hiawatha National Forest is restricting the building, maintaining, attending or use of a fire or campfire with the exception of those in Forest Service provided and maintained fire rings.

Charcoal grills are also prohibited on all Hiawatha National Forest land (Forest Order R9-10-21-02). These restrictions are meant to reduce the likelihood of wildfire on the Forest and will be in effect June 10, 2021 - July 19, 2021 unless terminated earlier.

Compressed gas camp stoves are still permissible.

Current data shows the eastern half of the Upper Peninsula (including all of the Hiawatha National Forest) to be in abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions. Click here for current drought conditions.

Many areas in the U.P. have not had measurable precipitation for more than four weeks, and extended forecasting predicts continued hot and dry conditions.

In addition, several late season frost events have killed emerging leaves on young oak stands and blueberry patches, which have turned the leaves brown and tinder dry. Winter ice and windstorm damage affected several large areas of the eastern U.P. by breaking off tree limbs and tops creating abnormally high dead fuel loading in these areas.

These temporary restrictions will serve to reduce the risk of human caused wildfire in the National Forest. Where campfires are allowed, campers are urged to be extra vigilant when building and extinguishing campfires by doing the following:

  • Think before you strike a match. Check for fire restrictions (Michigan DNR burn permit map) and monitor conditions such as high winds and temperatures. Limit fires to night-time hours or consider not having a campfire.
  • Drown, stir, and touch your campfire before leaving the fire ring to ensure the fire is dead out. Repeat until it is cold to the touch.
  • Stay away from using flammable liquids like gasoline to start your fire.
  • Avoid parking vehicles over tall, dry grass (vehicles cause more acreage burned than any other equipment).
  • Install spark arrestors on outdoor equipment and recreational vehicles and maintain recreational vehicles, trailers, and farm equipment to minimize the potential for sparks or other sources of heat.
  • Check for dragging chains before hauling campers or trailers. Dragging safety chains down the road can quickly become hot and make sparks, causing grass fires.
  • As a reminder, fireworks are not allowed on national forest lands.
  • For up to date information regarding forest closures or restrictions, please visit the forest’s website.

For Hiawatha National Forest camping information visit click here or call the Forest at 906-428-5800.

“Thank you for doing your part to camp safely and prevent wildfire in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.,” the Hiawatha National Forest said in a release.

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