Celebrate the Fourth safely with a visit to your public lands

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is a great opportunity to get outdoors and celebrate our nation’s birthday by enjoying America’s public lands. Before heading out on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland, however, there are several things folks should know before they go.

Visitors are reminded to do their part to help prevent wildfires. Although conditions have been wet in places this summer, wildfires can still start. Fireworks are not allowed on National Forest System lands, so be sure to leave them at home. Never leave your campfire unattended and park vehicles in areas free of tall grass. There are currently no fire restrictions on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland; however, there are areas where campfires are prohibited year-round.

This is one of the busiest weekends on the forests and grassland. Parking lots at trailheads and picnic areas can fill quickly, along with campgrounds. Reservable campsites are booked and first-come, first served sites will fill quickly. Visitors may need to adjust plans to dispersed camping outside of campgrounds. Be sure to have maps with you to ensure you are on public land. Our Motor Vehicle Use Maps are a free resource that can help. They are available at district offices, online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/maps or through the AVENZA app at http://www.avenza.com/pdf-maps.

Many roads are open for the season, but some still remain closed due to wet or snowy conditions. Be sure to check road status before heading out at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/roads. Conditions can change quickly, impacting access. Some trails and areas also remain closed due to 2013 flood damage. To check the latest, visit the flood recovery website at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/floodrecovery.

If you are hiking in the high country this weekend, many of the trails are still snow packed. Be prepared with proper footwear; stay on the trail (get muddy by walking through puddles rather than causing resource damage by avoiding them); and, as the snow melts, only cross creeks and lakes where these is a visible bridge or trails. The snowpack is weakening and you could fall through!

For additional information, visit us online at www.fs.usda.gov/arp, Twitter @usfsarp or www.facebook.com/usfsarp.

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