BEND, Ore. - (Update: Adding county forester comments on reasons, history for rules; penalties for violations)
Deschutes County commissioners have voted to impose public use restrictions on unprotected lands within the county and on all county-owned land to help prevent human-caused wildfires.
Unprotected lands are defined as unincorporated lands that are not a part of a rural fire protection district or protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Land owners can visit: https://maps.deschutes.org/custom/basic/PublicUseRestrictions.html to review regulations and see if they apply to their property.
The following restrictions are now in place and are effective immediately:
- Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads.
- Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in designated areas. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
- Chainsaw use is prohibited, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Chainsaw use is permitted at all other hours, if the following firefighting equipment is present with each operating saw: one ax, one shovel, and one 8 ounce or larger fire extinguisher. In addition, a fire watch is required at least one hour following the use of each saw.
- Cutting, grinding and welding of metal is prohibited between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. At all other times the area is to be cleared of flammable vegetation and the following fire equipment is required: one ax, one shovel, and one 2 ½ pound or larger fire extinguisher in good working order.
- Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads and except for vehicle use by a landowner and employees of the landowner upon their own land while conducting activities associated with their livelihood.
- Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling in a motorized vehicle, except on federal and state highways, county roads and driveways: one shovel and one gallon of water or one 2½ pound or larger fire extinguisher, except all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles which must be equipped with an approved spark arrestor in good working condition.
- Mowing of dried grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
- Use of fireworks is prohibited.
- The release of sky lanterns is prohibited.
- The discharging of exploding targets or tracer ammunition is prohibited.
- Blasting is prohibited.
- Any electric fence controller in use shall be: a) Listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services; and b) Operated in compliance with manufacturer’s instructions.
County Forester Ed Keith said the county began enacting the restrictions in 2014, shortly after the Two Bulls Fire threatened the western outskirts of Bend, as well as an impending drought.
The ODF regulations only cover a portion of the county, he said, "so we wanted to emulate those (rules) in areas of the county with no fire district response or ODF response."
"This is meant to prevent human-caused fires during the hottest and driest time of the year by prohibiting those activities that commonly cause wildfires throughout the state," Keith said.
The resolution signed Wednesday by commissioners states that violations could lead to civil damages and/or injunctions, and that those who violate the restrictions on county-owned lands are deemed trespassing and subject to criminal prosecution.
Information and maps of regulated closures for the Oregon Department of Forestry can be found at the following website: http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx
Information and maps of public use restrictions on Deschutes National Forest can be found at the following website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/centraloregon.