The Oregon Department of Forestry's Northeast Oregon District declared the end of wildland fire season last week.

The announcement lifts restrictions on backyard debris burning and campfires on private forestlands in the 1.6 million-acre district that chiefly encompasses Umatilla, Union, Baker and Wallowa counties.

District Forester Tim Keith said the Oct. 29 season ending is later than normal.

"We typically go out around Oct. 20, but it's been a long, dry season," he said.

While fire season was protracted due to weather conditions, the Northeast Oregon district largely escaped the dry lightning storms that set much of the state ablaze in mid-July.

"Unlike the rest of eastern and southern Oregon, we've been fortunate to have a relatively small acreage burned," he said. "It's been a combination of great fire-fighting efforts by our personnel, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, rural fire districts and private landowners - both industrial and non-industrial - that enabled us to catch the lightning- and human-caused fires that we did have."

Recent rain at lower elevations and snowfall in the mountains provided enough moisture to warrant the season termination, according to Keith.

The intermingling of private and national forest lands in the northeastern corner of the state has necessitated close cooperation on fire suppression between the Oregon Department of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service.

"Interagency coordination made a big difference this season. We put a lot of value in what the Forest Service did in helping us keep the fires small on private land," Keith said.

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