Many ranchers, farmers and other people are beginning their annual agricultural weed burning, and resources are available to help people make good decisions when planning these burns.

Each year, as spring burning season increases, at least a few of these burns get out of control.

“Frequently, our calm mornings turn breezy to windy during the afternoon,” said Tim Troutman of the National Weather Service Riverton office. “Having an up-to-date wind speed and direction forecast can help you decide whether or not dropping the match is worth the risk.”

Troutman said federal and state land management agencies routinely obtain weather forecasts from the NWS, and citizens should do the same. The Riverton NWS office can be contacted 24 hours a day by phone at 1-800-211-1448.

Area-specific forecasts are also available online at weather.gov/riverton. Highway conditions and remote weather information are available at wyoroad.info.

Citizens conducting a field burn are not only responsible for what happens on their own property, they may also be held criminally and civilly liable from damages to federal and state property.

This includes, but is not limited to, right-of-way fencing, according to Wyoming Department of Transportation District Engineer Pete Hallsten of Basin.

“From WYDOT’s perspective, the safety of the traveling public, workers and volunteers in the rights-of-way is first and foremost in decisions made regarding activity on or along the state highway system,” said Hallsten. “The situation of burning highway rights-of-way generates safety concerns for the traveling public by the potential of limited visibility caused by low-hanging smoke and damage to fences, signs, sign posts, guardrail and permitted utilities. Damage to any of these items may increase the potential for a crash or otherwise jeopardize the safety of the highway user.”

Landowners, conservation districts, and others who plan to conduct prescribed burning activities are strongly encouraged to check the latest weather forecast by calling the National Weather Service toll-free at 1-800-211-1448. They should inform local government officials, including county sheriffs’ offices of burn plans as well.

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