WORLAND — As temperatures begin to warm and the winter snows melt, many ranchers, farmers and other people head outside to begin their annual agricultural burns.
Each year, as the spring burning season gets into full swing, at least a few of these burns get out of control. This year, the National Weather Service is encouraging people to stay safe and “Learn Before You Burn!”
“Frequently, our calm mornings turn windy during the afternoon,” said Tim Troutman of the National Weather Service Riverton office. “Having an up-to-date wind speed and direction forecast can help you decide whether or not dropping the match is worth the risk.”
Troutman said federal and state land management agencies routinely obtain weather forecasts from the NWS, and citizens should do the same. The Riverton NWS office can be contacted 24 hours a day by phone at 1-800-211-1448. Area-specific forecasts are also available online at weather.gov/riverton or on smart phones at mobile.weather.gov.
Highway conditions and remote weather information are available at wyoroad.info.
Citizens conducting a field burn are not only responsible for what happens on their own property, they may also be held criminally and civilly liable from damages to federal and state property. This includes, but is not limited to, right-of-way fencing, according to WYDOT District 5 Engineer Pete Hallsten of Basin.
“From WYDOT’s perspective, the safety of the traveling public, workers and volunteers in the rights-of-way is first and foremost in decisions made regarding activity on or along the state highway system,” said Hallsten. “The situation of burning highway rights-of-way generates safety concerns for the traveling public by the potential of limited visibility caused by low-hanging smoke and damage to fences, signs, sign posts, guardrail and permitted utilities. Damage to any of these items may increase the potential for a crash or otherwise jeopardize the safety of the highway user.”
Landowners, conservation districts, and others who plan to conduct prescribed burning activities are strongly encouraged to check the latest weather forecast by calling the National Weather Service toll-free at 1-800-211-1448. They should inform local government officials, including county sheriffs’ offices of burn plans as well.
WASHAKIE COUNTY BURNING RESOLUTION
The Washakie County Burning Resolution approved last year by the commissioners includes regulations for county residents. Burning is permitted from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. No fires shall be started if winds are at or expected to exceed 15 mph during the burn.
Residents are required to contact county dispatch at 347-2242 prior to burning providing location, nature of the burn and name and contact information of the responsible party.
The county fire warden may suspend burning if the National Weather Service issues a red flag warning or high wind warning.
A full copy of the resolution is available on the county website at http://www.washakiecounty.net/.