LA GRANDE, Ore. – A drier than normal spring and stretches of warmer than normal weather has prompted Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) to begin fire season on private forest lands in northeast Oregon. Fire season will begin at 12:01 a.m., Wednesday, June 9 for about 2 million acres of forest and range lands protected by ODF Northeast Oregon District.
“We’ve been seeing fire conditions and behavior that is more indicative of mid to late July recently,” said Joe Hessel, ODF District Forester.
Hessel said, “The fuel moisture of our dead fuels is already at a point where they will readily burn, and it won’t be long before our grasses have cured. By declaring fire season, we can put measures in place to prevent human-caused fires. We’re already seeing fires caused by lightning, so we need to use the tools we have to minimize other ignition sources.”
The fire season declaration places fire prevention restrictions on landowners and public. Additionally, fire prevention regulations on industrial logging and forest management activities are put into place. Lands affected include private, state, county, municipal, and tribal lands in Union, Baker, Wallowa, and Umatilla counties along with small portions of Malheur, Morrow and Grant counties within the Northeast Oregon Forest Protection District.
Hessel states, “In a normal season, we would have experienced spring moisture which typically delays the start of fire season until later in June. This season, significant amounts of moisture have been absent. We’ve already had substantial fires on the landscape and it’s time to do everything we can to mitigate fire starts.”
Thunderstorms that passed through the area last week caused several early season ignitions around the region.
During fire season:
• Debris burning is prohibited. Burn Permits will not be issued for burn barrels or open burning on any private forest and range lands within the Northeast Forest Protection District of the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF).
• The use of exploding targets, tracer ammunition or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base is prohibited.
• Logging and other industrial operations must meet requirements for fire prevention, such as fire tools, water supply, and watchman service when those operations are occurring on lands protected by ODF. Contact your local Stewardship Forester at any ODF office for more information.
• Campfires must be DEAD OUT! Recreationists are reminded that campfires need to be attended and fully extinguished before being left. Get permission from the landowner prior to starting a campfire.
• The use of sky lanterns is illegal at all times in Oregon.
Note: we have new fire restriction signs located throughout the district, with a Fire Prevention information line; (541) 975-3027 and a QR code which will take you to www.bmidc.org, for current information on fire restrictions.
To report a fire, dial 9-1-1.
For information on the weekends call:
Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch Center La Grande (541) 963-7171
Make sure you know what the fire restrictions are before you head out. Check with your local Forest Service office for fire regulations on National Forest land, or BLM office for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Information on Public-Use Restrictions on the Oregon Department of Forestry, Umatilla National Forest and Wallowa Whitman National Forest can be found at http://bmidc.org/index.shtml under Current Information: Fire Restrictions.