In the middle of June, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources activated burning restrictions for Northeastern Minnesota, including the Duluth area. Arid conditions had created a significant risk of fire in the area and even one unintentional spark in those could have started a catastrophic fire, damaging thousands of acres as well as personal property.
Thankfully, those treacherous conditions have improved and appropriate action was taken.
This week, the DNR announced it was lifting burning restrictions in Carlton, Cook, Lake, and St. Louis counties. Recent rain has reduced, although not eliminated, wildfire risk in northeast Minnesota.
This action officially lifted restrictions on campfires for dispersed, remote, backpacking, or backcountry camping. Also, restrictions on burning permits for brush or yard waste have also been lifted.
The DNR notes that this action aligns with recent changes made by the U.S. Forest Service for the Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the National Park Service for Voyagers National Park, and the tribal nations of Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa for their respective tribal lands.
According to wildfire prevention specialist Karen Harrison, while the formal restrictions have been lifted for the area, Minnesotans need to stay alert as fire danger can change quickly with a few warm or windy days.
“While conditions have improved, we’re not fully out of the woods with fire danger this summer. It’s still important for people to follow wildfire prevention tips such as proper campfire safety, using caution with fireworks, and checking fire danger before doing any burning.”
She also suggests playing it safe by being cautious and keeping safety top of mind. The following tips are important to remember:
- Be safe with campfires. Keep it small (3 feet in diameter by 3 feet in height or smaller) and in an established fire ring. Never leave it unattended and drown-stir-repeat until it’s out cold before leaving. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave the area.
- Make sure OHVs have a spark arrestor and try to park on pavement or gravel, when possible, to avoid igniting a wildfire.
The DNR says they will continue to monitor conditions and will adjust county-specific burning restrictions as necessary.