Fire danger prompts north Idaho to go into Stage 2 fire restrictions

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Because drought conditions and historic high temperatures have created very high fire dangers across northern Idaho, Stage 2 fire restrictions will be put in place this month.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the local dispatch area recently saw an increase to Preparedness Level 4 (PL4). This means several areas are experiencing large, complex wildfires, suppression resources are spread thin and a majority of other firefighting personnel are committed to wildland fires.

The conditions have prompted Stage 2 fire restrictions to be implemented on the Coeur d’Alene Fire Restriction area, which will start on Monday, July 12, and remain in effect until further notice. These restrictions include all state, federal and private forestland and rangeland in Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai, Shoshone and Latah counties. This also includes National Forest System lands in Washington and Montana that are administered by Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

USDA said the restrictions are being implemented by agencies managing lands or providing wildland fire protection in the area, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

Under Stage 2, the following acts are prohibited on restricted private, state and federally managed or protected lands, roads and trails:

  1. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire.
  2. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a designated recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
  3. Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails in accordance with existing travel management plans for non-commercial purposes including ATVs, UTVs, and pickups.

Also, from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., USDA said other acts that will be prohibited include operating a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine for felling, bucking, skidding, processing, log loading and hauling, road building and woodcutting or any other activity employing the use of an internal combustion engine. Blasting, welding, or other activities that generate flame or flammable material and using explosives will not be allowed either.

However, there are some exemptions including permits, fires fueled solely by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels, private landowners using charcoal or propane barbeques on their own lands, and all land within a city boundary, among others.

More information and a detailed map about the fire restrictions can be found here.