Who doesn’t enjoy a summer evening trip to the beach for a crackling fire, cool drinks, and lounging in the sand? Get your bonfire on, says Oregon’s Parks and Recreation Department in a new press release, but burn natural wood, not pallets or construction lumber.

Wood pallets are held together with nails or staples, and after your magical fire has dwindled those rusty metal scraps are left behind in the sand to maim future visitors. So be considerate and follow the parks department’s guidelines for safe beach bonfires:

  • Use natural, untreated wood
  • Keep fires contained to a three foot square space unless you have a permit from OPRD
  • Drown your fire with water instead of burying it

Volunteers recently removed more than 200 pounds of nails and staples from beaches in Newport, and new signs are going up at entry points to Oregon beaches to remind visitors of the rules. Also, before you plan your nighttime beach shindig, do a quick check at oregonstateparks.org to make sure fires are permitted on the beach you’re headed to; some areas of the southern coast are under fire restrictions and beach fires are currently banned.

“You can enjoy Oregon's public ocean shore, and make sure the next visitor is going to have just as much fun," says Shirley Stentz, regional support manager for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. "Burn natural wood, not pallets.”

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