Archers reminded that fire danger is still high
As archers head out to the forest for the season that begins Saturday, Forest Service employees remind visitors that conditions are still extreme.
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Fire Staff Officer Bret Ruby said he cannot emphasize enough the importance of using extreme vigilance when using fires.
"Fires should be built in a fire pit surrounded by dirt, rock or commercial rings and should never be left unattended," he said. "Help us prevent wildfires. Extinguish the fire by repeatedly drowning it with water and stirring the coals until the fire is completely out."
Phase A restrictions remain in effect on the Wallowa-Whitman. Those restrictions are:
• Campfires are allowed only in fire pits surrounded by dirt, rock or commercial rings, clear of flammable material, and completely extinguished prior to leave. Persons with campfires are required to have an axe, shovel and one gallon bucket in possession at all times.
• Chainsaws may be operated only between the hours of 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. A one-hour fire watch is required after saw operations cease to watch for and suppress any fire starts. Saw operators are required to have an axe, shovel and fire extinguisher in possession at all times.
• Smoking is allowed only inside vehicles and buildings, developed recreation sites or cleared areas.
• No off-road/off-trail vehicle travel is allowed.
• Use of exploding targets is prohibited.
"Hunters, firewood cutters and other forest users wanting to build a campfire or warming fire must take responsibility," Ruby said. "If someone is found to be negligent for leaving a fire unattended they can be charged with suppression costs."
In the event that public use restrictions change, visitors are reminded to obtain the most current information before heading out to the Wallowa-Whitman or any other national forest. The La Grande Forest Service office can be reached at 541-963-7186. A La Grande recorded message line also has current fire restrictions at 541-962-8679.