National Forests move to Phase A Public Use Restrictions to help prevent wildfires

 

PENDLETON and BAKER CITY, Ore. – Due to increased fire danger and dry weather conditions, Phase A of the Public Use Restrictions (PURs) for smoking, off-road travel, and chainsaw use will go into effect on the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time on Friday, July 26, 2019.

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. local time. A one-hour fire watch is required after saw operations cease. Saw operators are required to have an axe (minimum 2 lb. head, 26” length), shovel (8” wide, 26” length), and fire extinguisher (minimum ABC 8 oz.) in their possession. **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. Forest officials recommend the following campfire safety precautions:

  • Campfires should be in fire pits surrounded by dirt, rock, or commercial rings and in areas not conducive to rapid fire spread.  All flammable material shall be cleared within a 3-foot radius from the edge of the pit and free of overhanging material. Use existing pits wherever possible.
  • 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, so they will be prepared to completely extinguish the campfire.

The public’s awareness of the increasing fire danger and cooperation is essential to a safe fire season. Recreationists, firewood cutters, hunters, and other forest users can all help by closely adhering to restrictions, operating safely and cautiously, and keeping up-to-date on the latest orders and regulations.

Regulated closures may be in effect on State and private lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) in northeast and central Oregon. Please check with your local Oregon Department of Forestry office for PURs on lands protected by ODF. For more complete information, contact a local Oregon Department of Forestry office or visit one of the interagency dispatch center’s webpages:

Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch webpage: www.bmidc.org
John Day Interagency Dispatch webpage:  http://bicc-jdidc.org/index.shtml

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

Please remember that it is everyone’s responsibility to know what restrictions are in place when visiting public lands. For more information regarding restrictions on the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, please contact:

Umatilla National Forest:
Information Hotline: Toll-Free (877) 958-9663
www.facebook.com/UmatillaNF
Twitter: @UmatillaNF

Wallowa-Whitman National Forest: 
Information Hotlines: Baker City (541) 523-6391; La Grande (541) 962-8500; Joseph (541) 426-5546
www.facebook.com/WallowaWhitmanNF
Twitter: @WallowaWhitman

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Wallowa-Whitman officials close small area near Sumpter to overnight camping due to resource damage

 

BAKER CITY, OR—July 25, 2019—The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest has determined that a temporary closure to camping is needed in a small area of the forest due to ongoing resource damage. This damage is the result of long term occupancy of the area. The Huckleberry Creek Area Closure affects approximately 240 acres of the Whitman Ranger District, located south of Sumpter along Forest Road 1090, and prohibits overnight camping in the area until July 24, 2021, unless rescinded earlier. A legal description and map of the closure area is included in the Forest Order, which can be viewed at the Whitman Ranger District office in Baker City or at https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/FSEPRD645413.pdf.

The closure order is necessary due to significant damage to natural resources in the area that has been documented by Forest Service employees. The Forest would like to thank local residents and the public who brought this to our attention, so that further damage did not occur. Septic holes, discarded litter and personal belongings, deep ruts in meadows and wetlands, and other forms of abuse from unmanaged long term camping have been documented. Multiple complaints were received from multiple sources. The order will allow the damaged area to revegetate and recover.

Photos of documented resource damage in the area are included in the full PDF press release linked above.

For further information, please contact: 

Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Whitman Ranger District at (541) 523-6391

 

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