Compete in the first annual NYS Summer Classic Fishing Tournament

This summer anglers all across New York state will be competing for their share of cash and prizes in the first annual NYS Summer Classic Fishing Tournament. The Grand Prize could reach up to $250,000. Created in the wake of the successful Winter Classic event held this past winter (January & February), the Summer Classic Fishing Tournament is expected to draw over 3,000 competing anglers, which would yield a $20,000 Grand Prize (awarded by random draw from the 10 first place anglers at the awards ceremony held at Captain Jack’s on Sodus Bay September 2nd).

This 10-week long statewide event starts on June 17th (the opening of bass season) and runs through August 31st. Anglers can fish any NY State waterway while targeting the 10 Divisional species. These species include pike, lake trout, walleye, carp, catfish, pickerel, crappie, yellow perch, bass, and panfish.

There are two additional cash awards for the overall largest rock bass ($500) and overall largest bowfin ($250). The divisions will start by paying out the Top 3 for each species and increase up to the Top 25 as more anglers join the event. In the Youth Division event, the Top 3 in each division will be awarded with trophies, U.S. savings bonds, and product awards, while the main event will pay out all cash, plus tackle awards for the Top 3 in each division category. As more anglers get involved and the event grows, so do the cash and prize awards with Kayaks, 4-wheelers, Toyota Tundra’s, or Starcraft boats given away weekly!

Anglers are invite to join the NYS Fishing Tournament

Anglers are invite to join the NYS Fishing Tournament!

How to register?

You can register online with a credit card off the tournament website: Online Registration or visit the 55 weigh-in plus locations across the state to bring fish in to, where they’ll accept registrations. Registration cost for the event is only $25/angler for the main event (with an optional Lunker Pool for an additional $10) and $5/youth angler (16 years of age and younger).

See who’s ahead — leaderboard!

Want to see who’s ahead? Check out the live online leaderboards that will keep everyone up to date. See the leading fish for both the main event and youth event, as well as who is leading for the weekly awards: Weekly Leader Board

You can even follow the event on Facebook for the latest tournament information, pictures, and updates.

Additional information for the Summer Classic event can be found at:

http://www.NYSsummerclassic.com

Contact Tournament Director Tim Thomas at (585) 330-0494 or info@fksportfishing.com with any questions or inquiries.

 

Your Invited: Join the Enchanted Mountains of Western NY for their Annual Maple Season Weekend

Start to Thaw Out in the Enchanted Mountains of Western New York with the Annual Maple Season Weekend: March 25th-26th, 2017.

Cattaraugus County has many tree-lined hills covered with Maple Trees. This makes March and April one of most favorite times of year! Why you ask? Maple Season! Time for some sweet syrupy goodness! With all these beautiful Maple trees around, you can bet that we have some of the best tasting Maple syrup around and Maple Farms that range from family size to full on, year ’round productions! All of New York State shares in this splendid time of year when the world around us starts to thaw out and the sap start to flow! Come and take a tour to one of the participating Farms, try samples, join in fun activities or just purchase some of this liquid goodness! So how does warming up with a hot pile of pancakes sound to ease the cold of winter?

Maple Season-woods-tractor-ride

Maple Season time means a tour ride into the woods with this fancy tractor ride! Image: enchantedmountains.com

March is Maple Season and it marks the beginning of a season of tradition, where local Maple Farms begin to tap the trees in hopes of some sweet sap flowing down into their buckets. The time period between winter and spring is best for collection, with temperatures around 40 degrees being ideal. Nowadays, trees are tapped with cordless drills and small plastic spouts are placed to run the sap into a hanging bucket. But technology is ever changing the ways people do anything, and has exploded into this process as well. Some Maple Farms have intricate webs of tubing, going straight from the tree to the tank, with vacuums to draw out that delicious sap. Each Farm uses the same basic idea to get the sap but have different techniques and processing systems to bring syrup to your table.

Image: enchantedmountains.com

During the weekend of March 25-26, from 10 am-4 pm each day, some of our Maple Farms open their Sugarhouses, set out the samples and invite all to share their love of one of the sweetest products Mother Nature produces. This activity is great for families and is kid friendly, running from 10 am-4 pm each day. So lose those Winter Blues by heading outdoors, learning about your surroundings and thaw out with Maple Weekends!

Here's a fun alternative -- a wagon ride to the Sugar Shack

Here’s a fun alternative — a wagon ride to the Sugar Shack. Image: enchantedmountains.com

Sprague’s Maple Farm in Portville will offer wagon rides to their authentic old-fashioned Sugar Shack where they have delicious samples waiting for you to try! Have you ever tasted Maple Wine? Learn a little about the various grades of syrup, sample the different ranges, eat a maple donut or just stand next to evaporator and take in the smell of boiling sap. You will be sniffing your coat the rest of the week! Starting out as a hobby over 30 years ago, this huge farm now boasts a Restaurant serving all your maple favorites as well as free range turkey dinners. Maple is used in most every dish that is served making anything you order sweet and savory!

American Maple Museum

American Maple Museum [Image: enchantedmountains.com]

Visit Wright Farms in Farmersville to see how they are able to manage 8000 taps. Five generations of Wright’s have worked to maintain the tradition of producing maple syrup and maple products on the farm since 1840. In fact, one of those generations was inducted into the American Maple Museum’s Hall of Fame in 1978 for his contributions to the maple industry. Besides syrup, they make Maple Cream, which can be used as a topping for pancakes, waffles, French toast, hot cereal, fresh fruit, ice cream and more!

Stop by Boberg’s Maple in Delevan, known for their Maple Cream, for a tasty treat! Their process is more traditional with older equipment adding to the charm of the Farm. Warm up to this family owned and operated business. Samples are available.

The Pancake House at Moore’s in Freedom still serves up “all you can eat” pancakes from January to mid April, and their unique restaurant is filled with a selection of antiques, including a washing machine, sleds, tools, chinaware, knickknacks and other memorabilia. This year they are offering wagon rides to the Sugar Shack, samples and fun! Discover why you will be traveling back to this Pancake House over and over again throughout the season!

Maple Glen Sugar House in Gowanda, about 40 miles south of Buffalo, recently remodeled their Sugarhouse. You can come in during Maple Season Weekends and see the evaporator at work, sample some goodies, and learn about their farm that started out 20 years ago and now takes care of over 4,000 taps! In the past they have had horse drawn wagon rides, tours and demonstrations as well as other food you can buy! See what surprises they have for you this year.

Whatever Farm you decide to go to, admission is FREE and all are more than happy to welcome you to their Sugar House with a sweet warm aroma of maple syrup being heated. Each Farm takes pride in their product and is happy to be doing what they are. Come to Cattaraugus County and embrace our agricultural side…. your stomach will thank you!  

Is one weekend not enough? Then keep a heads up and mark it on your calendar for the Franklinville’s WNY Maple Festival April 29-30. Two days of pancake eating, craft items, a parade, and live demonstrations. Read more about these events or places on our website: www.EnchantedMountains.com or get more information by calling 1-800-331-0543 or emailing info@enchantedmountains.com.  

 

Winter Camping and Outdoor Recreation at ‘Base Camp Oswego County’ Feb. 25

WILLIAMSTOWN –Outdoor enthusiasts can learn winter survival skills and the basics of winter camping while exploring the grounds of Camp Zerbe at the second annual Base Camp Oswego County, a winter outdoor expo, Saturday, Feb. 25.

The event is sponsored by Pinnacle Builders USA Inc., Oswego Expeditions, the Oswego County Search and Rescue Team, Oswego County Division of Parks and Recreation, Oswego County Tourism Office, and several volunteers who are experienced in outdoor recreation.

Workshops will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. inside the lodge and on the grounds of the Oswego County Nature Park at Camp Zerbe, 253 State Route 104 East in the town of Williamstown.

Outdoor winter camping on the grounds of Camp Zerbe near Williamstown.

OUTDOOR WINTER CAMPING ADVENTURE – The second annual Base Camp Oswego County will take place Saturday, Feb. 25, on the grounds of Camp Zerbe near Williamstown. A variety of field trips and workshops will be held during the day, with optional overnight camping. For event information visit www.facebook.com/BaseCampOswego or call Oswego Expeditions at 315-561-0223. (Photo by Mary Ellen Barbeau.)

“The purpose of Base Camp Oswego County is to introduce people to the basics of winter camping and Oswego County’s great resources for outdoor recreation,” said event chairman and County Legislator Jake Mulcahey of Oswego.   “We have a full day of field trips and workshops scheduled. Overnight camping will be available Saturday night, Feb. 25, for those who bring their own winter camping gear and register in advance. This year we’ll have designated areas for family camping and adult only sites.”

Workshop topics include cross-country ski and snowshoe hikes, snow shelter building, winter survival skills, GPS and orienteering, working with sled dogs and skijoring, camp cooking techniques , fat bikes, and ice fishing. Admission to the workshops is free. There is a $10 registration fee per tent for overnight camping.

Food vendors will be on site during the day. Participants should dress for the weather and bring their own sleds, skis and snowshoes if they have them. A limited number of snowshoes will be available for loan.

Overnight camping will be available for those who pre-register and bring their own winter camping gear. To register, call Oswego Expeditions at 315-561-0223 or visit http://bit.ly/2kb8TJr

Two clinics will be held prior to the event for first-time winter campers. Jake Mulcahey and Barb Hartman will conduct “Introduction to Winter Camping” clinics at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Mexico Public Library, 3269 Main St., Mexico; and Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. at Murdock’s Bicycles and Sports, 177 W. First St., Oswego. Those planning to camp overnight should bring all of their own gear and food for Saturday night dinner and Sunday morning breakfast. Overnight campers will be asked to register and sign an insurance waiver.

The Oswego County Nature Park at Camp Zerbe is owned by Oswego County and overseen by the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, Division of Parks and Recreation. Any proceeds from the event will be donated to the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau for youth recreation programming.

For information, visit www.facebook.com/BaseCampOswego or call Oswego Expeditions at 315-561-0223.

2017 NYS Winter Classic Fishing Tournament Continues through February

NYS Winter Fishing Tournament Continues through February

OSWEGO COUNTY – The 2017 NYS Winter Classic Fishing Tournament is considered the largest winter fishing tournament ever conducted in NY state, the NYS Winter Classic Fishing Tournament continues through the end of February. The event features seven categories of fish to target, a catch-and-release event for trout and pike, 58 weigh-in locations, and a prize structure that tops $80,000 in sponsored cash and prizes from over 50 sponsors making this event one of the most sponsored tournaments in the country.

Anglers fishing in the tournament can visit three local businesses — All Seasons Sports and Salmon River Sports Shop in Pulaski, and App’s Bait and Tackle in Cleveland — to weigh in their catches.

Angler catches a steelhead fish at a tournament

Anglers fishing Oswego County waters can enter their catches for the New York State Winter Classic at three Oswego County tackle shops: All Season Sports and Salmon River Sports in Pulaski, and App’s Bait and Tackle in Cleveland. Pictured holding a steelhead he released back into the Oswego River is Tommy Quinzi. Photo courtesy of Capt. Kevin Davis, Catch the Drift Guide Service

“This will be the third year for this statewide event and it continues to grow with more anglers getting involved and larger prizes to the winners,” said tournament organizer Tim Thomas. “The event allows anglers to fish any waterway in NY state, any time between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28, using any legal angling method, to target seven categories of fish. ”

Live leaderboards on the website keep anglers updated in near real-time throughout the event for both the main event and weekly awards. This year’s event features two large prizes: a $2,500 cash grand prize sponsored by Clam Outdoors (to be given to one of the first place finishing anglers by random draw) and a Case canoe with graphics wrap and fishing accessories for the overall largest fish entered.

Additional prizes include weekly, monthly, and overall prize packages, product specific awards, female angler awards, species specific awards including a $1,500 stainless steel artistic steelhead mount by world-renown artist Steve Nielsen, door prizes, and angler achievement awards for catching fish of substantial size.

Registered anglers will also have a chance at 58 shanties being given away in raffles – every weigh-in location has one to give away. Anglers can gain entries either by registering for the event or bringing fish in to the stations during the event (one entry per angler per day per location per fish). Registration is $25/angler ($35/angler with the optional lunker pool) and anglers can register at most weigh-in locations or online at www.nyswinterclassic.com.

“The New York State Ice Pro-Am Corporation in association with Finders Keepers Sportfishing continues to strive to offer exposure for the New York State fishery through their tournament events and sponsor connections to promote the industry and encourage tourism,” said Thomas. ” These tournament events have been very successful at offering new product companies and tackle shops exposure to turn profits.”

For more tournament information, contact Thomas at (585) 330-0494 or email info@FKsportfishing.com or visit www.NYSwinterclassic.com.

For Oswego County fishing conditions and visitor information go to www.visitoswegocounty.com or call 1-800-248-4FUN.

Explore Winter Wonderland at Cattaraugus County in The Enchanted Mountains

Explore the Winter Wonderlands at Cattaraugus County in the Enchanted Mountains

Contributed by: Cattaraugus County

Western New York Winter is upon us in The Enchanted Mountains! Here in Cattaraugus County, one day we could be shoveling out two feet of snow and the next dodging raindrops! Never fret, whether you choose to explore the Winter Wonderlands of our Natural areas or prefer to celebrate the season by visiting our splendid indoor museums, galleries and theatre performances, you are sure to celebrate all of Winter, not just the holidays. Come and enjoy these fun winter activities with the whole family, you’ll be glad you did!

Snowmobile season is in full effect! [Image: enchantedmountains.com]

Trails and Lodging 

When the snow comes down all fluffy and fast, you can be sure that is the best time to ride a snowmobile. Cascade over the freshly fallen snow laying peacefully on the fields or slow down in our forested areas to look up and glance at the snow-lined trees. We have over 450 miles of trails, including those in Allegany State Park. With all those miles and trails that connect into the next County, you will need at least a couple days to pack in all the fun! We have numerous lodgings with easy trail access including cabins in Allegany State Park, Harwood Haven, Mystic Water Resort and The Woods at Bear Creek! Plus plenty of B&B’s, house rentals and more! Call 1-800-331-0543 for your Free Trail Map and brochure which lists these places and more, plus restaurants, snowmobile rentals , snowmobile service stops and gas stations along the trail!

Here is just one example of the day of fun that awaits you this winter!

Stay at The Inn at One Bank Street in Randolph, which has restaurants and gas within a half of a block from your guest room. Walk over to Vern’s Place in the morning for an affordable, delicious meal to give you the energy to be out in the cold all day. Head back to the room, gear up and take your sled over to Arrowmart to gas up before you go, again just a half block away! Now you’re ready for an adventure – but don’t forget your trail map! It is very important to respect the landowners that allow the trails to go over their property. And remember, just because you see a trail doesn’t mean it is for your use! It is your responsibility to know the trails and stick to them!

How about heading up to Little Valley, then over through the back hills of Ellicottville through the McCarty Hill Forest then over to the quaint town of Franklinville. Check out the Woods at Bear Creek for dinner and to warm up. The Woods at Bear Creek offers a view of the pristine snow over their lake that can be seen from the restaurant! Once you’re warmed up, head south through Ischua and down through Portville. If you didn’t grab a bite to eat at The Woods at Bear Creek, then give Sprague’s Maple Farms a try! Almost everything on the menu has maple syrup in it! There are gas opportunities here too at Kwik Fill and the Halfway Inn Bar & Grill. Make your back to Randolph through Allegany State Park to start scoping out a location for next year’s snowmobile vacation.

Love winter but prefer the indoors?

Why not ease into it with ice-skating at the William O Smith Rec. Center in Olean. This is the perfect compromise. You get to enjoy a great winter sport, but can step off the ice to warm up at any time. Plus, what makes a better date night than ice-skating? (Hint, hint) Afterwards, take that special someone out to a lovely dinner at any of the new restaurants in Olean. Try Woodside Tavern on the Range on River Road for a beautiful setting, or the hip new Ravyn & Robyn Lounge, featuring fine Italian Cuisine made from scratch! There’s always the tried and true favorites as well – The Beef N Barrel, Brothers Bistro, El Mariachi and Angee’s! Recount the funny happenings of ice-skating while you dine together and enjoy the slower pace of winter.

Historial Museum exhibit fat Cattaraugus County New York

Cattaraugus County Historical Museum  [Image: Cattaraugus County]

Can’t stand the thought of cold weather?

Well, we recommend you make your way into one of our outstanding museums, galleries or theatrical performances to keep you warm. We have 26 museums in the County that can be viewed in our Heritage Brochure (free if requested as well). These have a variety of interests including Town and Village histories, History of the County, Seneca Nation Culture, themes relating to African American History and the Underground Railroad and one even has a Mammoth! The Regina A Quick Center is located on the campus of St. Bonaventure University and has stunning and important works of art from their collection and others. There are also live performances here from renowned musicians thanks to the group “Friends of Good Music”.

The theatre is alive and well and as you know the saying goes, “The Show Must Go On”. And that means in the winter as well. Spend a delightful evening inside dreaming of other lives lived and hearing the great stories and musicals put on by our fantastic local talent. Olean Community Theatre will be starting their 38th season in 2017 and will feature “The Big Meal” “Assassins” and “9 to 5”. The Olean Theatre Workshop has provided family theater for over 34 years and upcoming performances of The Odd Couple will debut in Feb. The Ray Evans Seneca Theatre is the host to the Cattaraugus County Living Arts Association’s performances. “Hair” will be gracing the stage here in February and is sure to be the talk of the town for the months surrounding. This one is not to be missed!

Actors play a scene from the play Arsenic and Old Lace at the Olean Community Theatre in The Enchanted Mountains

Olean Community Theatre, Arsenic and Old Lace Play  [Image: Cattaraugus County]

So whatever you’re idea of winter is, a time to enjoy crisp cool air and fluffy snow or a time to slow down, relax and find special moments indoors, then The Enchanted Mountains of Western NY are where you need to be! Visit us online at EnchantedMountains.com, call us at 1-800-331-0543 or follow us on Facebook!

Halloween Haunts

What’s this! Your cheeks sense chill air, crisply scented with leafy decay as a slow creeping sensation causes the hairs on the back of your neck to rise… it’s Halloween!! State parks are the best year-round, but are also the SP🎃🎃KIEST way to get a taste of nature as the days shorten. We thought we’d list prime, kooky ways to get your heart rate up!

Trains and Treats in California

There’s festive fun aplenty to get your autumn on track at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Park goers should prepare themselves for a freight–er.. fright! on the Spookomotive Ride, leaving the station hourly this Saturday and Sunday, the 29th and 30th, from noon to 4 p.m. The 45-minute, 6-mile (round-trip) train ride is $15 for adults, $8 for young people aged 2-17, and free for children two years old and younger. A mad scientist will be on board to startle and delight passengers, as well as to field questions regarding how to reanimate sewn-together people, or use lightning as a renewable energy source for your own secret laboratories!

The theme for the weekend is Witches & Wizards, but if you’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to reveal your zombie train conductor costume with all its bells and whistles (overalls are back in a big way this fall, after all), the CSRM would probably be it. There’s trick-or-treating at the museum on Saturday, Oct. 29th, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with plenty of sweets and knowledge to be had for magic folk and ghost engineers alike.

Chugging right along…

[Image: hiddensandiego.net]

Once called Día de los Muertos, Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, is a pre-Columbian tradition which has its roots in central and southern Mexico. Today, the macabre-yet-bright skeletal imagery and the spirit of venerating deceased loved ones marks a holiday celebrated across cultures here in the United States. [Image: hiddensandiego.net]

If you can’t make the Halloween events at the CSRM and find yourself in southern California, you can check out the Día de los Muertos celebrations at Old Town San Diego SHP. On November 1st and 2nd, there will be historical and modern altars set up around the park to commemorate the inhabitants of Old Town. Visitors can take an altar tour to learn about this tradition, and themselves contribute to the “Tributes & Sentiments” chalk graveyard to remember their own loved ones.

Wicked Woods in New York

A halloween hallow?

Serene or sinister? The more you know, the more your answer will crystalize. [Image: www.pinterest.com]

In keeping with the haunted themes of the season, Green Lakes State Park in Central New York is welcoming one and all to their event, Wicked Woods. On October 29th, from 4 to 8 p.m., admission to the park is free. There will be beachside mini-golf and costumed trick-or-treating, a haunted trail, crafts, a photo booth, and a large bonfire to cap it all off. You can learn more about the event here. As an added bonus, you can work some feel good magic into your eerie festivities by bringing along a non-perishable food item to donate to the local food bank.

Owl-O-Ween in Tennessee

Owls have long been as much a part of Halloween imagery as pumpkins, ghosts or witches. It’s possible this is because of their domination of the nocturnal world, which they survey with their piercing eyes and well-informed demeanor. If you’ve ever taken a break from personifying these mighty nighttime hunters and wondered about the distant hollow hoots one occasionally hears on dusky hikes, Owl-O-Ween at Long Hunter State Park in Hermitage, Tennessee is just the ticket. For $3 per individual, or $5 per family, hikers can explore nature after sundown, while learning about the Barred Owl and its unique night-song from a knowledgeable ranger! October 29th, 7:30-8:30 p.m., guests are encouraged to make a reservation by calling 615-885-2422 or visiting the Long Hunter State Park website, here.

 

Uh oh...

This would look a whole lot more terrifying if you were a field mouse… [Image: www.birdwatchingdaily.com]

Whether you’re looking to take on Halloween fully costumed, or simply enjoy the smells of autumn, there is an inexpensive or free way to satisfy your Halloween cravings at a state park near you. There’s no time like the present to download a Pocket Ranger® mobile app and explore what’s going on!

Take a Note from a Wildfire

Photo taken on 9/20/16

The Soberanes Fire started burning the morning of July 22. In early August, fire officials determined that the fire began as an illegal campfire, that was started around 8:45 a.m. and left unattended near a trail in Garrapata State Park, about 20 miles north of Big Sur. The fire, 100% contained on October 12th, burned for 83 days and spread over 132,000 acres of California’s central coast, particularly in the Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest. The fire cost more than $230 million in fire suppression response and damages to private and public property, in addition to the death of a bulldozer operator whose rig overturned while fighting the blaze in steep backcountry. [Image: inciweb.nwcg.gov/]

Historically speaking, even though it may be one of the most expensive, the Soberanes Fire is not the most destructive wildfire to decimate thousands of acres in North America. In terms of area burned and lives lost, it isn’t remotely close—the Miramichi in New Brunswick, the Big Burn that scorched Idaho and Montana, and even the Great Chicago Fire all dwarf the Soberanes Fire, despite the fact that the latter burned for two-and-a-half months, and consumed 11 outbuildings and 57 homes in remote areas.

The bulk of the credit for the fire’s relative containment is due to better technology, research and wildfire-fighting science than was available at the time those terrible fires raged—to say nothing of the heroic, well organized, and supremely-trained fire response crews who fly, drive, hike, and parachute into the affected areas to combat the fire from every possible angle. There is however a key factor that connects the fires: their preventable and shared likely geneses, human intervention.

All of the destruction of Soberanes Fire—and the resources expended by heroic efforts imparted by wildland firefighters who battled its disastrous march up steep, secluded mountainsides—started with a single campfire set and abandoned by a careless human. If anything instructive can come from the Soberanes Fire, it’s the importance and reinforcement of good campfire safety and etiquette.

Seriously… Only YOU Can Prevent Wildfires!

The first rule of thumb is of course to heed warnings: never start fires where they are banned by the town, county or state you’re camping in, or when the U.S. Forest Service gives you Smokey-the-Bear eyes. They’re very judgmental if you don’t pay attention.

Failure to adhere to the bans is not only dangerous for adventure seekers, but for wildlife, and the native flora. The Forest Service uses the Fire Danger Rating System to communicate this succinctly. When the fire danger is high or very high to extreme, fires burn quickly and intensely, and can be difficult and dangerous to control. A small spark or ember, hoisted on even a slight breeze, can set a hillside ablaze. Clearly someone wasn't paying attention when this si[Photo by Lance Cheung. Source: commons.wikimedia.org]

Failure to adhere to the bans is not only dangerous for adventure seekers, but for wildlife and the native flora. The USFS uses the Fire Danger Rating System to communicate wildfire danger succinctly. Particularly when the fire danger is “high” to “extreme,” fires burn quickly and intensely, and can be difficult and dangerous to control. A small spark or ember, hoisted on even the slightest breeze, can set a hillside ablaze. [Photo by Lance Cheung. Source: commons.wikimedia.org]

Where fire danger is low to moderate and there isn’t a ban in effect, responsible, attended campfires in designated campfire rings and pits can provide a charming, immersive and educational look into outdoor living and our ancestral past. And also s’mores. When fires are permitted, it is best to use developed, designated fire rings or fire pits.

If fire rings are not present, as may happen when backpacking in undeveloped areas or wilderness, and fires aren’t illegal, still use caution: fires should be as small as possible and only be started when completely necessary. Consider the surface where the fire will burn, and be sure to clear away duff, brush or other combustible material, including your shelter, from the immediate area. Before starting a fire outside of a developed fire ring take steps to minimize the fire’s impact.

Enjoy the Campfire, But Don’t Be Rude!

Whether or not a fire is created in the backcountry or in a fire pit in a designated campsite, materials that enter the fire should be entirely, naturally combustible, as with tinder, kindling, wood and charcoal. Non-combustibles or pollutants like cans, tin foil, plastic and Styrofoam shouldn’t be burned, let alone left in the pit. (Pro tip: Leave No Trace principles are helpful whether you’re tucked away in dense, wooded backcountry, or staying at a KOA. Leaving garbage for the next camper to pick up is always a disappointment and detracts from the enjoyment of nature they and we all seek when we head out for a night of sleeping under the stars.)

Fire: Wouldn’t Want to Live Without It

Fire is a necessary component of life, whether we are in the wilderness or not. It cooks our food, warms our homes, propels our cars and busses, and even provides entertainment along with its warmth, as when we enjoy fireworks or a festive Yule log. But wildfires iterate in stark terms the danger of mistaking fire as a tamed resource. In our homes and in the wilderness, fire will always have a power that requires vigilance and attention for safety. As long as we remember to be mindful of that, campfires and fireplaces will remain as integral and warming as they have been for a million years.

[Image: recreation.gov]

“Gee, we really are lucky,” this camper seems to think, “both to enjoy this campfire as recreation rather than necessity, and because there are so many ways to enjoy a good fire safely!” [Image: recreation.gov]