Dear Editor:

I’m shocked and frustrated about the lifting of the fire ban in southeast Utah. I just don’t understand; we are still in an extreme and exceptional drought. The area I live in did not get a monsoon season this year, nor did we get one in 2017. There are areas all over southeast Utah that haven’t received any substantial precipitation in almost two years; the area I live in is one of those. The pinyon/juniper forest is having a mass die-off, pinyons dying at an alarming rate, juniper, blackbrush, Mormon tea, etc., all struggling and dying in many, many areas. The region saw one of the hottest, smokiest summers in decades, fires all over the West, and the heat hasn’t stopped. It is highly irresponsible and premature to have lifted the fire ban; two fires started just last week in other parts of Utah, one burning almost 10,000 acres caused by target shooting, leading the BLM to ban target shooting in certain regions. As long as the region is in an extreme and exceptional drought we continue to be at risk of fires and the fire ban needs to continue. It’s the intelligent and responsible thing to do for the safety of our communities and our public lands.

Kiley Miller