Because the potential for large wildfires still exists, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest would like to emphasize campfire safety during hunting season.
Recreationists should use caution while hunting in the forests of Northeast Oregon. Warming fires do not fall in the category of a safe campfire and not allowed. Although unattended or abandoned campfires cause many fires, the pitch stump or small warming fire on top of a ridge somewhere is the biggest culprit.
"We urge hunters to exercise extreme caution, making sure permission has been granted by the landowner before starting a campfire and that the area around the campfire has been cleared of debris and is dead out before leaving it," explains Matt Howard, assistant unit forester for ODF's Wallowa office. "Fuel conditions are critical. We could have a large fire very easily. Because of this, wildfires requiring suppression due to a careless campfire or warming fire will result in lawful action."
People may experience a false sense of security due to the cooler mornings, which results in a higher occurrence of human-caused fires. According to the ODF prevention office in Salem, "Our incidence of human-caused fires is already running ahead of last summer." At this summer's rate, it is important that people adhere to the fire season restrictions that are in effect in Northeast Oregon District (this includes protected land among seven counties in northeastern Oregon).
Restriction can be confusing; it is very important for people to check with landowners before attempting to camp or hunt on their property. Landowners such as Boise are not allowing campfires or off-road ATV use.
Restriction are subject to change at National Forest levels, so it is advised to contact the Wallowa Mountain Visitors Center to get up to date information at (541)426-5546. To report an abandoned campfire or warming fire, people are asked to call the Northeast Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center at (541) 963-7171 or 9-1-1 if after hours.
For more information, call the ODF Wallowa office at (541) 886-2881, or check their website at www.odf.state.or.us/areas/eastern/northeast/reguseslift.asp.