From Campground Ambassadors to installing vault toilets, Friends of Bridger-Teton works to make camping on the forest better for campers and the landscape.
One of the most visible and effective improvements has been the installation of steel fire rings. In 2021 and 2022, FBT funded the fabrication of 80 fire rings, which were installed by volunteers at two of the busiest dispersed camping areas on the forest, Shadow Mountain and Topping Meadow. There is now one fire ring at every designated campsite on Shadow Mountain. A goal is to have a fire ring at every designated dispersed campsite on the forest, of which there are several hundred.
“The summer of 2022 was the first year we experienced a downward trend in campfires left burning [on the forest],” said Lesley Williams Gomez, Bridger-Teton National Forest North Zone Fire Prevention. “We strongly believe this positive change is due to the Friends of the B-T Ambassador program and the metal fire rings gifted from generous donors.”
Each steel fire ring has been installed exactly where Gomez said it should be. In placing the steel fire rings, wind conditions, topography, and vegetation are taken into consideration. Unlike rock rings, the steel fire rings are set in the ground. This makes it less likely that a spark will get away. It also encourages smaller fires. Campground Ambassadors reported that they had seen “humongous fires with giant branches sticking out over the rock fire rings.” They don’t see this at campsites with the new fire rings. “The steel fire rings are very defined and the fire is down in them. That seems to either make it more difficult to put big logs in them, or to dissuade campers for using big logs. They just seem to bring a little more control to having a campfire,” said one Campground Ambassador.