Officials remove backcountry campfire ban in Smokies

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials on Tuesday removed a ban on backcountry campfires that went into effect in late September.

GSMNP officials decided to lift the ban after recent rains and cooler temperatures over the last couple of weeks lowered drought severity ratings and fire danger throughout the park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials had announced a temporary ban on Sept. 26 on backcountry campfires due to, “abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions throughout the park.”

Park officials will continue to monitor conditions throughout the fall season and will implement future restrictions as needed.

Visitors are reminded that all fires must be confined to designated campfire rings and grills. Users should take precautions to help reduce the risk of wildfires by extinguishing fires by mixing water with embers in fire rings and grills.

Drought conditions also affect the availability of water at springs at backcountry campsites and shelters throughout the park. Many of the springs in the higher elevations are running significantly slower than normal at this time and the following backcountry campsites are currently known to be without water: 5, 13, 16, 26, Russel Field Shelter, and Mollies Ridge Shelter.

Backpackers are encouraged to carefully consider their itinerary and carry extra water for those sites that are not located along major water sources.

For more information about regional drought conditions, visit https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu.

For more information about backcountry trip planning, visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/backcountry-camping.htm or call the GSMNP backcountry office at 865-436-1297.

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