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Still no plans for fire ban in wilderness

Aug 10, 2017 - By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Rick Metzger, the ranger for the Shoshone National Forest's Wind River district said fire risk continues to be a concern as the Aug. 21 solar eclipse approaches.

The Wind River district surrounds Dubois, which lies near the eclipse's path of totality and is expected to see an big influx of visitors this month.

Despite that, the U.S. Forest Service has not planned a fire ban for either the Wind River district or the Washakie district, which contains the section of the Wind River Range southwest of Lander.

Metzger said officials will reassess the fire risk again next week.

Regardless, he said it's unlikely there will be a fire ban instituted in wilderness areas.

"When you get up into the high country, it gets very, very green," he said.

He said that even if a fire ban is issued, it could be difficult to enforce during the weekend before the eclipse.

"If we have 1,000 people at Union Pass with a fire restriction, what are we going to do?" he said.

Steve Schacht, ranger for the Washakie district, said he'd feel more comfortable continuing to stress the importance of smothering fires.

If a forest fire breaks out near Dubois, Metzger said it could be difficult to cater to firefighters -- since basic amenities like porta-potties -- are currently unable to be rented during the eclipse.

"We'll have our fingers crossed that a fire doesn't come until the 22nd," he joked.

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