Feature

Let the stars be your fireworks for a safe Fourth of July

Kathryn Sosbe
Office of Communication
July 3rd, 2019 at 10:07AM
A picture, taken at night, showing stars that seem to be rising above towering trees on the Payette National Forest in Idaho.
Stars seem to rise above towering trees on the Payette National Forest in Idaho. Stargazing is nature’s way to help you celebrate the Fourth of July. (Photo courtesy Sam Broadway)

The country’s annual celebration of its independence is not complete without family gatherings, picnics, parades, and the sights and sounds of fireworks.

Yet on national forests and grasslands, fireworks and other explosives are prohibited permanently. Public lands provide another option for celebrating the Fourth: Simply look up at night. Nature’s light show can provide its own “oohs and ahhs.” Stargazing, especially in areas where darkness is broken only by campfires, provides spectacular shows.

Although fireworks are not allowed, national forests and grasslands are the perfect spaces to spend your holiday. They provide entertainment for everyone, from camping, to cookouts, to places to enjoy water recreation.

If camping or picnicking is what you are planning, make sure you check with the local ranger district of your national forest or grassland for any bans on open flames, whether it’s a fire pit, grill or campfire. Even if there are no bans, please be cautious. The rule to ensuring your campfire is out is to drown, stir, drown and feel with the back of your hand to ensure the fire is fully out. Letting a campfire die out naturally is not safe. Hot embers could be smoldering underneath the ashes and could reignite. Remember, the ashes should be cold to the touch.

You can also use a mesh dome over fire pits to help stop embers from flying in the air and landing on dry grass. These embers could spark a fire in an area further than your campsite.

Other safety tips include being careful to not park on tall, dry grass. The heat from the car, or chains dragging along the ground if you are pulling something, could spark a fire. For more information, check out our Know Before You Go tips and wildfire prevention advice from Smokey Bear.

We want you to enjoy your Fourth of July safely. Remember, you are responsible for your safety and for the safety of those around you.

Videos 

How to Start and Put Out a Campfire
South Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve
Fire Restrict Education Stage 1
Fire Restriction Education Stage 2
Fire Prevent and Safety Tips While Visiting Public Lands

A picture, taken at night, showing a view of the Milky Way over Cathedral Rock, seen from the Cathedral Rock Trailhead on Back O' Beyond Road, Coconino National Forest, Sedona, Arizona.
View of the Milky Way over Cathedral Rock, seen from the Cathedral Rock Trailhead on Back O' Beyond Road, Coconino National Forest, Sedona, Arizona, April 30, 2017. Cathedral Rock is a prominent rock formation located between Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek, Arizona. Both towns are certified International Dark Sky Communities, abiding by lighting ordinances that help protect northern Arizona's dark skies for local observatories, astronomers, and star gazers. (USDA Forest Service photo by Deborah Lee Soltesz)