The Fourth of July is one of America’s great landmark holidays, celebrating our nation’s independence. It is also a great time to enjoy nearby forests and grasslands. However, it is vitally important that all users are aware that possessing, igniting, discharging or using any kind of fireworks is prohibited on National Forest System (NFS) lands. “Setting off fireworks in a national forest is not only illegal, it is also a hazardous activity that can lead to injury and wildfires,” said Kathleen Atkinson, Eastern Regional Forester. “We want folks to come out and enjoy their public lands, but please leave the fireworks at home.” Atkinson encourages forest visitors to check with local communities for fireworks displays. The use or possession of fireworks on federal lands is subject to confiscation and fines of up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail. In addition, anyone found responsible for starting a wildfire may be held civilly and criminally liable for the cost of suppressing the fire. The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/.