If you go
What: Fourth of July fireworks
Where: Howelsen Hill
When: July 4 after the rodeo (approximately 9:30 p.m.)
Steamboat Springs Although fireworks are a staple of the Fourth of July experience, Forest Service officials are urging campers to leave the festive explosions to the experts.
"Not only is it not a good idea," Forest Service spokeswoman Diann Ritschard said, "it's illegal."
The penalty for using fireworks on federal lands is a maximum of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. Anyone responsible for starting a wildfire may be held responsible for the cost of putting it out and for the damage caused by the fire. Fireworks are never allowed on national forests, grasslands or Bureau of Land Management lands.
Ritschard said the rainfall for the season is below normal in some areas. Recent high temperatures, wind and low humidity have left trees, brush and grass dried out and ready to burn in many areas of the state.
Although the forests appear green, they actually are rapidly drying.
"The forests are drying out more and more," she said. "We don't want anybody to start a fire."
During the holiday weekend and through July 4, Ritschard said park rangers will patrol the forests to make sure people are safe.
There aren't any fire restrictions in place on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland, but Ritschard still encouraged people to take precautions with campfires.
Ritschard recommended clearing the brush around campfire rings and making sure campfires are fully extinguished before they are abandoned. Smokers should remain in cleared areas and campers should avoid parking in grassy areas so car exhaust systems don't ignite a fire.
"The big thing is don't leave (the fire) until it's cold to the touch," she said.
One option firework enthusiasts have is the fireworks show at Howelsen Hill on July 4. The show will start right after the rodeo Wednesday and run for about 20 minutes, said Jeff Nelson, ski and rodeo supervisor.
Nelson said the show is set up so it can be viewed from anywhere in the city limits.
The only place people are not allowed is on the actual hillside of the ski area because of safety reasons.
"It should be great," Nelson said. "We're very, very fortunate for the amount of volunteers and sponsors we have. This is a great community. This is just an example of the way this community comes together."