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June 21, 2011

MADISON - Camping in a state park or forest for the Fourth of July? There are lots of ways to enjoy the holiday in the parks, but park officials ask visitors to enjoy fireworks displays in nearby communities - not at picnic areas, campsites or other areas within state parks and forests.

Fireworks are illegal in Wisconsin state parks and forests, according to Jason Fritz, chief ranger for the Wisconsin State Parks program.

"For the safety of our guests and our resources, our rangers strictly enforce the no fireworks laws," Fritz said. "Fourth of July favorites, the sparkler and the snake, are not defined as 'fireworks' per Wisconsin state law, but most park and forest rangers and superintendents would rather not see them at all because they are a fire hazard."

A citation for illegal fireworks in a state park or forest can cost the lawbreaker 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 forest fire in Wisconsin is liable not only for the cost of putting the fire out but also for any damages, notes Catherine Koele, forest fire prevention specialist with the DNR Division of Forestry.

As of the third 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 2011, DNR records show 413 fires have burned nearly 400 acres in Wisconsin.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Fritz (608) 266-2152 or Catherine Koele, DNR forest fire prevention specialist - (608) 266-2359

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 21, 2011

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