So far this year, two lightning strikes have caused forest fires on the Bitterroot National Forest. The fires were kept to less than a tenth of an acre, according to Joni Lubke of the Bitterroot Forest. And it hasn't taken long for the warm temperatures to cause the Fire Danger Level to raise from Low to Moderate on the danger scale. It is even more important to remember that fireworks are NOT allowed on National Forests. If you are caught lighting off fireworks there, the fine could be $500 or more. And if you are the cause of a wildfire, you can end up paying for the firefighting costs.

OK, serious stuff is out of the way. There are plenty of great places to enjoy the July 4th holiday and actually get away from the constant fireworks sounds. The campgrounds fill up fast and Lubke suggests you check the Bitterroot National Forest website to browse through the "camping" and "Recreation/Cabins" pages. Most sites are first-come, first-served, but that doesn't mean just leaving some chairs out the night before. You must occupy the site on your first night. Take along drinking water. Keep an eye on your campfire and put it DEAD out when you leave. As far as garbage - pack it in, pack it out.

AREA ADVISORIES
- Lost Horse Road #429 (one of my favorite places) is open, but the road is not in the best of shape with deep ruts and is not recommended for trailers yet. Twin Lakes is still in the snow and roads up to Schumaker Campground and Bear Creek Pass have large snow drifts, making them inaccessible.
- Magruder Road Corridor between Darby and Elk City, Idaho, is closed at Observation Point due to snow. Nez Perce Pass is open to Paradise Campground. Check with the West Fork Ranger Station for the latest information.
- Lake Como requires a recreation pass for parking. It's $5 per vehicle or $30 for the whole season. Camping fees and day-use fees help keep the popular site maintained. And, there is drinking water available at Lake Como.