Because of extreme fire danger, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Northeast Oregon District of the Oregon Department of Forestry will prohibit the use of campfires in all locations, including Oregon State Parks and National Forest campgrounds, picnic areas, and recreation sites, beginning at 12:01 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2003. Campfire restrictions on the Vale District of the Bureau of Land Management are already in effect.

The campfire restriction does not include the Eagle Cap Wilderness, where campfires are still allowed.

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), Northeast Oregon District Regulated Closure affects privately owned, state owned, and industrially owned forestlands protected from fire by the Northeast Oregon District, in Union, Baker, Wallowa, Umatilla, Malheur, Grant, and Morrow Counties.

"This ban on all campfires illustrates the extreme fire danger that we are currently experiencing in northeast Oregon. It is very rare that we are forced to go to this all inclusive campfire ban," said Mark Jacques, Oregon Department of Forestry, Unit Forester in La Grande.

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest campfire restrictions cover the entire Forest including the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area in Oregon and Idaho, and the Snake River corridor. Restrictions also prohibit wood stove and briquette fires. Liquefied and bottle gas stoves and heaters may be used for cooking and heating in areas barren from flammable materials.

According to Matt Reidy, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Fire Staff Officer, prevention measures enforced by public use restrictions help reduce the risk of human-caused fires during these extremely dry conditions.

The campfire closure is in addition to other restrictions already in effect on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Bureau of Land Management Vale District, and Oregon Department of Forestry protected land, which includes all private lands and Oregon State Parks.

"The restrictions will remain in effect until moisture and cooler weather reduce the risk of wildfires," Reidy stated.

Law enforcement action will be taken for people caught violating fire restrictions. For more information people are asked to check with local Forest Service offices: in Enterprise, 541-426-4978; Northeast Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center (541) 963-7171; or http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/firecenter/update.htm.

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