Observer staff

With the arrival of warmer and drier weather, public-use restrictions have been implemented on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Northeast Oregon District and on the Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla national forests.

The prevention of human-caused fires is the primary objective of the additional fire prevention measures, which were instituted by the ODF July 25 and by the Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla national forests July 26. The public-use restrictions will remain in place until they are deemed no longer necessary.

The following restrictions affect private, state, county and municipal forestlands protected by ODF:

• Open fires are prohibited. No campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires or warming fires except in designated locations. (Designated locations within the Oregon State Parks system include but are not limited to Emigrant Springs, Ukiah Dale, Catherine Creek, Hilgard Junction, Red Bridge, Wallowa Lake, Minam and Unity Lake.) Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.

• No smoking while traveling, except on improved roads, boats on water and in areas cleared of flammable vegetation.

• Non-industrial use of a chainsaw is prohibited from noon to 8 p.m. Use is permitted at all other hours as long as the proper firefighting equipment is present. This includes one ax, one shovel and an 8-ounce or larger fire extinguisher. A fire watch is required for at least one hour after the use of each saw.

• Cutting, grinding and welding of metal is prohibited from noon to 8 p.m. After these hours it is allowed in a cleared area with water supply on hand.

• No mowing or cutting of dried grass with power-driven equipment from noon to 8 p.m., unless for commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.

• Any electric fence in use must be listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory and be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services and operated in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

• No fireworks, exploding targets or use of tracer ammunition or bullets with a pyrotechnic charge.

• Possession of a shovel, a gallon of water or 2.5-pound fire extinguisher is required while traveling except on state highways, county roads or driveways.

• Debris burning is prohibited except in permitted burn barrels.

• The use of sky lanterns is prohibited year round.

On the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman national forest, Phase A of the public-use restrictions (PURs) for smoking, off-road travel and chainsaw are now in effect s. Phase A is the first level of wildfire-prevention restrictions, generally implemented when the fire danger is moderate to high. PURs are phased in as conditions warrant and may differ from forest to forest. Restrictions under Phase A include:

• 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. Saw operators are required to have a 2-pound 26-inch ax, 8-inch-wide shovel and fire extinguisher (minimum ABC 8 oz.). Chainsaw operation associated with commercial and personal use firewood permits are regulated under the conditions of the permit and are not impacted by this PUR.

• Smoking is allowed only in enclosed vehicles, buildings or cleared areas.

• Vehicle travel is allowed only on roads and trails that are clear of standing grass or other flammable material. Off-road or off-trail vehicle travel is not allowed, nor is vehicle travel on national forest roads where access has been impeded or blocked by earthen berm, logs, boulders, barrier, barricade or gate, or as otherwise identified in the Fire Order.

The public is also encouraged to be very careful with campfires when recreating in dispersed and developed campsites. Campfires should be in fire pits surrounded by dirt, rock or commercial rings. All flammable material shall be cleared within a 3-foot radius from the edge of the pit and free of overhanging material.

Campfires must be attended at all times and completely extinguished prior to leaving. Anyone with a campfire should have a tool that can serve as a shovel and at least one gallon of water in order to completely extinguish the campfire.

Similar restrictions may also be in effect on state and private lands protected by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. More information can be found on the WA-DNR website: http://www.dnr.wa.gov.

For details regarding restrictions on the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman national forests, contact the Umatilla National Forest Information Hotline at (toll-free) 877-958-9663, or the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Information Hotlines in Baker City (541-523-6391), La Grande (541-962-8500) or Joseph (541-426-5546).

More information regarding fire danger can be found at www.bmidc.org/restrictions.shtml or by calling the ODF Northeast Oregon District office at 541-963-3168.

To report a fire, call Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch at 541-963-7171 or dial 911.

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