Wildfire conditions in Minnesota continue to worsen and are now prompting restrictions on mechanized operations and dispersed camping, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 30, dispersed camping in state forests and backcountry camping in state parks will be closed in the northern portion of St. Louis County, and all of Lake, Cook, and Koochiching counties, with the exception of the four designated backcountry sites at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.
Land management activities on DNR-managed lands within these counties will also be restricted between the hours of 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.
“The extended, extreme wildfire season means we need to greatly reduce human activities that could spark a fire to help protect life and property,” urged Allissa Reynolds, DNR acting wildfire prevention supervisor. “We are asking for residents, visitors and business owners to join us in this challenging fight to prevent and suppress wildfires in the face of persistent drought conditions.”
“We understand the impact this summer’s fire situation and associated state and federal restrictions are having on local businesses, visitors, and residents,” said Forrest Boe, DNR Division of Forestry director. “We don’t take these decisions lightly and, when conditions allow, we will ease restrictions. In the interim, we appreciate people’s support as we all work through this dangerous wildfire season together.”
Dispersed camping is not allowed in 18 state forests and backcountry camping is now closed in six state parks. Be sure to check the website for state forests and park restrictions before your visit.
Land management activities restricted on DNR-managed lands include any mechanized operation that could create a spark and result in a fire, such as:
- Harvesting trees and processing logs on the landing
- Mowing and clearing grass and brush
- Road grading
- Dressing (sharpening) road grader blades on hardtop roads
- Preparing land for tree, shrub, or grass planting (e.g. roller choppers, anchor chains, and rock rakes)
- Decorative top harvesting
- Blasting activities outside of a defined mine or pit
- Welding, using acetylene torches, or other devices with an open flame, to cut metal or rock
- Grinding metal and rock
- Parking vehicles and machinery in tall grass and vegetation
Exceptions to these restrictions include:
- Hauling cut forest products is allowed 24 hours a day.
- Equipment and gravel crushers working in a pit.
- Equipment used for the purposes of emergency response or fire suppression
Contact the local DNR field office information about the restrictions on land management activities and the process for requesting special permission to conduct such activities, if necessary.
The U.S. Forest Service has issued similar dispersed camping and land management activity restrictions for the Superior National Forest. The DNR’s restrictions do not control tribal lands. Tribal governments may have their own restrictions in place.
All previously issued burning and campfire restrictions remain in place for public and private lands at this time. The DNR wildland fire information webpage includes information on all restrictions and a list of affected state forests, parks and recreation areas.