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Observer 11/24/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow HUNTERS BEWARE

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HUNTERS BEWARE

The scattered showers that have fallen on the Grande Ronde Valley in recent days haven't been enough to dampen fears of fire.

Forest officials, including Mark Jacques of the Oregon Department of Forestry, are warning bow hunters to take extreme care when pursuing game in the woods.

"Even with the recent moisture, we're still dry," Jacques said. "La Grande has received the most rainfall of all."

Sparta Butte between La Grande and Baker City has received no rain in the past few days. Other areas may be equally dry, he said.

"We still have one-and-a-half weeks of August and all of September, traditionally hot, dry months," he said.

Matt Reidy, fire management officer for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, shares Jacques' concerns, and he called the conditions "far worse than normal."

"We ask hunters to be responsible forest users and obey fire closures and restrictions that are in effect."

The national forest is prohibiting all fires, including warming fires and charcoal fires, outside designated campgrounds. Bottled gas stoves are allowed, and under certain conditions, hunters may use electrical generators.

One of Jacques' concerns is motor vehicle travel away from improved roads, both on private and public lands. The Forest Service has banned off-road motor vehicle travel.

"Improved roads are free of grass or vegetation on the roadway," he said. "Roads with wheel tracks on each side of a grassy center strip are not considered improved roads and pose a fire hazard."

Smoking outdoors is prohibited.

The state parks in the Blue Mountains and Wallowa Lake State Park have banned all campfires. Charcoal fires are allowed within designated fire rings.

Boise Cascade will permit hunters to enter its property, but the timber products corporation is not allowing overnight camping, campfires, warming fires, or smoking outside of vehicles.

Information on restrictions may be found on the Wallowa-Whitman Web site, www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w, or by calling 963-7186. For information about private lands, call state forestry at 963-3168.

Reidy said the restrictions will remain in force "until forest and weather conditions reduce the risk of wildfire."

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