MADISON – People planning on camping in a Wisconsin state park or forest for the Fourth of July should enjoy fireworks displays in nearby communities — not at picnic areas, campsites or other areas within state parks, forests and trails.
Fireworks are illegal in Wisconsin state parks and forests, according to Robert “Chris” Madison, chief ranger for the Wisconsin Bureau of Parks and Recreation.
“For the safety of our guests and our natural resources, our rangers strictly enforce Wisconsin no fireworks laws,” Madison said. “Fourth of July favorites, the sparkler and the snake, are not defined as “fireworks” per state law, but most park and forest rangers and superintendents discourage their use because they are a fire hazard.”
A citation for illegal fireworks in a state park or forest can cost up to $200 and parents could be liable for the full costs of putting out a fire started by their children playing with or setting off fireworks.
In fact, anyone responsible for starting a wildfire in Wisconsin is liable not only for the cost of putting the fire out but also for any damages, said Catherine Koele, forest fire prevention specialist with the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry.
As of the last week of June, fire dangers levels throughout Wisconsin were low across the state, but even in low fire danger times, fireworks can start wildfires. So far in 2016, DNR records show 545 fires have burned more nearly 600 acres in DNR fire protection areas of Wisconsin. Wildfires caused by fireworks only amount to 5 percent of the annual total; however, these fires typically occur in a condensed timeframe around the Fourth of July holiday.
More information on fireworks and fire danger is available in a “Fireworks cause forest fires and more… [PDF]” brochure available for download from the DNR website.
For more information on fireworks, including air quality and health issues, search the DNR website for “fireworks.”