Katy Nesbitt
The La Grande Observer

ENTERPRISE — State fire managers declared the beginning of Northeastern Oregon’s fire season at the end of June, but so far things are off to a slow start.

Joe Hessel, ODF Northeastern Oregon forester, said fuel conditions and weather, including days of drying winds, helped Oregon Department of Forestry officials determine their decision ahead of Independence Day. While some areas of Northeastern Oregon are still green, southern Baker County and the Grande Ronde and Imnaha Canyon grasses are curing.

“Some higher elevations areas are lagging behind while in other places we could get a pretty good fire,” Hessel said.

June rains helped some parts of Northeast Oregon more than others Nathan Goodrich, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest North Zone fire management officer said.

“The east side of the Blue Mountains, the Eagle Caps and the Seven Devils were just starting to turn dry at the end of the last month, but Pendleton, Walla Walla and Pomeroy are brown,” Goodrich said.

Hessel said the moderate rating is worth taking note, especially with an increase of people working and playing in the forest there is reason to exercise caution. Along with the declaration of fire season, burn permits are now required for open burning and burning in barrels. To acquire a permit, a landowner must call a local ODF office and meet with an official.