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Don’t Be a Firebug!

We’ve had and continue to have such extremely dry, windy conditions in Nebraska’s outdoor scene. A number wildfires (grass fires, brush fires, etc.) have unfortunately already taken place this spring!

A grass field fire near Elkhorn, NE recently. Photo Credit: WOWT 6 News.
A grass field fire near Elkhorn, NE recently. Photo Credit: WOWT 6 News.

It’s critical to not be a firebug in our great outdoors! In other words, you don’t want you to be the person who is responsible for starting a wildfire when you’re having fun this spring camping, backpacking,  picnicking, fishing, turkey hunting, morel mushroom picking, etc. Many folks I know believe that lightning starts most wildfires. In fact, on average, 9 out of 10 wildfires nationwide are caused by people. The principle causes are campfires left unattended, debris burning on windy days, arson, careless discarding of smoking materials or BBQ coals, and operating equipment without spark arrestors.

Photo Credit: Glenn Moore.
A roadside grass fire. Photo Credit: Glenn Moore.

I’ve already been out spring archery wild turkey hunting several times and can attest to the extreme dryness and high fire danger!



By the way, did you see the recent Game and Parks news release we did to address the fire danger situation? Here are some additional, easy to remember tips to help you be wildfire-wise.

*First and foremost, any and all use of combustible materials that could ignite a wildfire must conform to any fire bans issued. If it’s dry in the countryside and no such ban has been issued, consider eliminating or being extra, extra careful with with everything from campfires to charcoal grills! You can keep tabs on fire danger in Nebraska by clicking here.

*Secondly, no smoking! You shouldn’t be smoking anyway, plain and simple – it’s not good for your health! If you see someone smoking, remind them that their smoking materials must be disposed of safely.

*Thirdly, no driving or parking vehicles in dry grass, crop stubble or vegetation. Dry vegetation that comes into contact with a vehicle’s hot catalytic converter and exhaust systems can spark a fire quickly. Stay on established roads, trails, lanes and parking areas.



*And finally, all of us heading outdoors should carry several inexpensive fire fighting aids to be able to put out small fires before they get out of control. Equipment that’s as simple as a shovel, bucket, and a gallon container of water may make the difference.


You could even add a fire extinguisher as well as a few burlap sacks. Wet burlap sacks or bags can be used to beat out small fires. Also, be prepared to use your mobile device or cell phone to call 911 in the event you see a fire burning or observe smoke.

Preparation and awareness are key when it comes to preventing destructive wildfires! You can get much more information about wildfire prevention protection by visiting the Nebraska Forest Service’s website. It’s like old Smokey the Bear says: “Only you can prevent wildfires!”


About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Communications and Marketing Specialist and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media channels, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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