New fire restrictions to take effect in southeast Utah after Memorial Day weekend

A photo of a campfire outside of Moab near Arches National Park. Campfires and other sources that can spark a fire are set the be banned in the area under new restrictions that take effect on June 2.

A photo of a campfire outside of Moab near Arches National Park. Campfires and other sources that can spark a fire are set the be banned in the area under new restrictions that take effect on June 2. (James Orndorf, Shutterstock)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

MOAB — New fire restrictions, including bans on campfires even in campgrounds, are set to begin in southeast Utah next week as a result of quickly drying conditions across the region, federal land managers said Friday.

The new restrictions, a Utah first for 2022, will also include bans on smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, developed recreation site or roads that are away from any vegetation. Metal cutting and welding are also banned from vegetation areas.

All state lands and unincorporated private lands in Grand and San Juan counties are included in the restrictions, as are:

  • Federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management's Moab and Monticello field offices in both counties
  • Canyonlands and Arches national parks
  • Natural Bridges and Hovenweep national monuments
  • U.S. Forest Service's Moab and Monticello ranger districts of the Manti-La Sal National Forest

The bans are scheduled to take effect on June 2. The U.S. Forest Service's restrictions carry into Colorado's Mesa and Montrose counties, too.

While all campfires will be banned at that time, people will be allowed to use petroleum or liquid propane gas-fueled devices with a shut-off valve in areas at least 3 feet away from vegetation.

The Bureau of Land Management issued the notice a day after the U.S. Drought Monitor listed over 70% of Utah in extreme drought. Almost all of San Juan County is in this category, while most of Grand County remains in severe drought status.

"Southeastern Utah is experiencing hazardous fire conditions due to prolonged drought and extremely dry vegetation," the bureau wrote in a statement. "Weather forecasts and wildland fire prediction models point to increased fire danger."

There are currently only campfire restrictions along Davis County's east bench, according to Utah Fire Info, which is a combination of state and federal land management agencies. The restriction is a result of ongoing rules set up by the U.S. Forest Service.

Fire managers in southwest Utah said last month they were preparing for increased fire danger, pleading for people to take care of their vehicles and any fires they start because roadside fires, abandoned campfires and debris burning were the leading human-caused fire activities. The region has now had several red flag warnings but has mostly escaped fires to this point in the year.

There have been a little over 150 wildfires in Utah so far this year, burning a combined total of 509 acres, according to the Utah Wildfire Dashboard, which is also maintained by state and federal land management agencies. At least 83% of the fires sparked so far are human-caused, per the information.

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Utah wildfiresUtah droughtEastern UtahOutdoors & RecUtahSouthern Utah
Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

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