Beginning Friday, July 27 the Niobrara National Scenic River will re-open for river recreation from Ft. Niobrara Launch (Cornell) to Rock Barn. Previously river use had been restricted to reduce public access conflicts with firefighting efforts for the Fairfield Creek Fire.
Visitors travelling along River Road are urged to use extreme caution as emergency vehicles and firefighters will continue to be working in area. There are still hazards to be cautious of in the fire area. Smoke may continue to be visible during the next few days as unburned fuels and smoldering logs located inside the perimeter continue to burn. Trees weakened by the fire could fall without warning.
National Park Service staff has been working with Region 24 Complex management throughout the week to manage visitor use of the river, county road closures, and to provide public information. The park Facebook page www.facebook.com/niobraransr has been viewed by thousands seeking updates on the fire and river access.
The Fairfield Creek Fire along with the Wentworth and Hall Fires make up the Region 24 Complex Fire in north central Nebraska. The Fairfield Fire began mid-morning Friday, July 20 by a lightning strike southeast of Norden, Nebraska. The fires have burned over 72,405 acres of forested canyons and upland grasslands. A Type II Incident Management Team is coordinating with state, county, and local emergency staff to direct nearly 480 firefighters and 80 rural fire department personnel. The fire has destroyed 10 homes and associated outbuildings in the river valley and threatened 152 more.