The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has added seven counties to the list of those under burning restrictions, including campfires, amid the ongoing drought.
In effect as of Tuesday morning, areas within state jurisdiction in Aitkin, Becker, Benton, Carlton, Clearwater, Mahnomen and Stearns counties join the 14 counties that are already under burning restrictions.
Those are: Roseau (eastern portion), Beltrami, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Lake, Morrison, St. Louis, Todd and Wadena counties.
These expanded restrictions come after the U.S. Forest Service nixed campfires in the Boundary Waters and Superior National Forest.
Under the Minnesota DNR's restrictions, no campfires are allowed for "dispersed, remote, or backcountry camping on all lands" and no campfires are allowed on any DNR-managed lands, including campsites, cabins, picnic and other day-use areas (camp stoves are allowed).
On non-DNR managed lands, campfires "may be allowed in established fire rings associated with a home, cabin, campground or resort" but people should check with the site manager because there may be additional restrictions.
No fireworks can be ignited on any public or private land outside city limits, and the state won't issue burning permits for brush or yard waste in the counties listed above.
Meanwhile, the DNR has also issued a temporary ban on all recreational fires on DNR-managed lands in eight counties: Roseau County (western portion), Douglas, Kanabec, Kittson, Mille Lacs, Otter Tail, Pine and Pope counties. These counties are not subject to the aforementioned restrictions on non-DNR lands.
The restrictions will be in effect until the DNR revises them or removes them, which won't happen until weather and environmental conditions "indicate a significant reduction in fire danger."
Minnesota's ongoing drought continues to fuel an unusually high wildfire activity in the state, and the DNR's burning permit coordinator Linda Gormanson says if conditions don't improve, a ban on all campfires and limits to other activities, such as welding, could be a necessary response.
So for this year, more than 1,600 wildfires have burned more than 35,000 acres in Minnesota.