Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hunters and Campers are Encouraged to be Vigilant While in the Woods

Despite slightly cooler temperatures this week, Oregon Department of Forestry is reminding those headed to the woods this weekend to use caution.  Moderate temperatures do not necessarily mean a decrease in fire danger.  The lack of recent precipitation along with the winds have helped to dry fuels.  Fire danger levels have reached high to extreme across the district.  With archery season beginning this weekend, many recreationists will be headed out to enjoy the forest. 

“We get a spike in human-caused fires this time of year.  There are more people headed out to camp, hunt and enjoy the forest.”  said Matt Howard, Unit Forester, Wallowa Unit.  “Not only are we asking people to be cautious and follow the regulations, but to be vigilant while they are out.  Keep an eye out for fires and report them immediately.”

This year to date, 68% of the fires that ODF Northeast Oregon District has had have been human-caused.  These fires have burnt a total of 711 acres.  The 10-year average for human-caused ignitions in northeast Oregon is approximately 38%.  Human-caused fire starts include debris burning, abandoned campfires and equipment use.  Equipment use fires are of particular concern because these starts include fires that were ignited by ATV use and driving vehicles off of improved roads.  These types of incidents are preventable, making this upward trend concerning to fire managers. 

“We’ve reached the point with our fuel conditions where one careless spark can quickly turn into a large fire.  You don’t want to be the one that’s responsible for that.  There are so many ways that a fire can start right now.  ATVs and off road travel really concern us this time of year.”  Howard said. 

Citizens are asked to continue to use caution and adhere to the Regulated Use Closure in effect for lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry.  The public is also reminded that the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, as well as the BLM are currently under public use restrictions.  Current fire restrictions for forestlands in Northeast Oregon can be found at is your spot for current fire information in the Blue Mountains. 

To report a fire, call Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch at (541)963-7171 or dial 9-1-1. 


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