Nebraska Panhandle campers urged to be careful, mindful of fire danger -
Published Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 2:26 am
fourth of july
Nebraska Panhandle campers urged to be careful, mindful of fire danger

Mindful of last year's record wildfire season, emergency managers and parks officials in Nebraska's Panhandle are asking people to take care with campfires, barbecue grills and fireworks this July 4th holiday.

Nearly 500,000 acres of Nebraska burned last year as the worst drought in the state's history took hold. Less than half of the Pine Ridge Forest remains intact.

This spring and summer has gotten off to relatively moist start, but crowds of people cooking outdoors, driving along grasslands and shooting off fireworks have officials worried.

“In spite of good moisture growing a lot of green vegetation this year, a few days of 100-degree heat and wind will convert it to flammable fuel,” said Doak Nickerson, Northwest District forester with the Nebraska Forest Service.

Nearly 90 percent of Nebraska remains in drought. In the Panhandle, conditions are considered severe to extreme, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Working together to advise caution are the Chadron and Crawford Volunteer Fire Departments, the Dawes County Sheriff's Office, the Region 26 Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, the Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands and the Nebraska Forest Service.

Fireworks are banned on National Forest Service lands, and motor vehicle travel is allowed only on designated trails and routes. Many areas of the Panhandle have tall grass and some of it has begun to cure.

Mike Watts, acting Pine Ridge District ranger, asked visitors to park only in parking lots or areas with little vegetation. This is because a spark from a car or hot muffler can start a fire.

Contact the writer: Nancy Gaarder    |   402-444-1102    |  

Nancy writes about weather, including a blog, Nancy's Almanac. She enjoys explaining the science behind weather and making weather stories relevant in daily life.

Video: Stothert says Crossroads project is 'full speed ahead,' but she won't support bond issue
'Fairly old' human skull found in Mills County
World champion Crawford's promoter working to have title defense at CenturyLink Center
Police i.d. body found near 36th, Seward Streets
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Omaha crash victim, 19, had touched many lives
Firefighters take on 'fully engulfed barn fire'
Council Bluffs school board approves new district headquarters
Officials announce effort to lure more veterans to Nebraska
SB 132nd Street lane closed
Shane Osborn grabs several endorsements
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Omaha area may get 1 inch of rain tonight
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Owners of exotic dance bar deny prostitution allegations
More Nebraskans are electing to vote early
A day after Ricketts endorsement, Ted Cruz backs Sasse for Senate
TD Ameritrade says profit up 35 percent in second quarter
Some city streets remain closed
Nebraska's U.S. Senate candidates stick to familiar topics at Omaha forum
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
8% of alcohol sellers checked in Omaha area last week sold booze to minors
< >
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Breaking Brad: Nebraska GOP candidates unified against naked squirrels
Some of these Nebraska campaigns are tilting pretty far right. At a recent forum, there was a consensus that we need to ban public dancing and clothe naked squirrels in public parks.
Breaking Brad: Inside the mind of a 99-year-old real estate agent
I saw an article about a 99-year-old real estate agent who's still working. “This house is extra special. It has indoor toilets!”
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »