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Forest visitors warned: Leave fireworks at home


With the Memorial Day weekend approaching, the U.S. Forest Service is reminding visitors to national forests in Oregon and Washington that discharging fireworks or explosives, including exploding targets, is prohibited.

Fireworks routinely cause wildfires. Their possession and use have been prohibited at campgrounds and elsewhere on national forest lands for years. Last year, the Pacific Northwest Region also banned the use of exploding targets.

Exploding targets are a documented cause of wildfires, and have been associated with at least five wildfires on National Forest System lands since 2012, resulting in more than 15,600 acres burned and approximately $30 million in suppression costs.

“Exploding targets are an increasing concern on national forests in this region due to their potential to harm the public and for the high temperatures—and often flames—generated when they explode,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Loudermilk.

Exploding targets generally consist of two or more separate chemical components that, when mixed, become an explosive designed to produce a visual and audible display intended for use as a target for firearms practice.

These targets typically consist of a fuel and an oxidizer, such as ammonium nitrate and aluminum, which can be purchased legally online and at retail stores. They explode forcefully and with enough force to scatter burning material.

The prohibition of exploding targets on National Forest lands is not intended to deter the sport of target shooting, officials said. The prohibition is directed at concerns over the potential for fire ignition associated with the use of exploding targets on public lands. The Forest Service recognizes hunting and safe target shooting as a valid use of National Forest System lands.

Any violation of this prohibition is punishable as a Class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.

The closure order can be found on file at the Pacific Northwest Region (USFS), 333 SW First Ave.., Portland, Ore. 97208. For information about this order, please contact Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Loudermilk at (360) 891-5278.

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