PRINEVILLE, Ore. - Regulated Closure restrictions will take effect Friday at 12:01 a.m. for lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in Central Oregon. These lands include private, municipal and state lands protected by the Central Oregon District.
Warm summer temperatures over the last few weeks have dried forest fuels, increasing fire behavior and the potential for rapid fire growth throughout the district, officials said. Recent lightning activity has kept firefighters busy, but of greater concern is the increase in human-caused fires in the last week.
Kiel Nairns, Assistant Unit Forester in The Dalles, explained, “Firefighting resources working to put out preventable human-caused fires contributes to long-term fatigue and could prevent firefighters from being able to respond in a timely manner to some of the lightning fires. These preventable fires also increase unnecessary exposure and risk to our firefighters.”
The intent of the Regulated Closure is to reduce human caused fires by restricting high probability activities.
Activities below are restricted by this closure. Additional restrictions and the full proclamation can be accessed at www.Oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx
· 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 operational 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.
· 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.
· 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 axe, one shovel, and one operational 8 ounce or larger fire extinguisher. In addition, a fire watch is required at least one hour following the use of each saw.
· Mowing of dried grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
· 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.
· The use of fireworks and blasting is prohibited.
Beginning July 1, open burning including burn barrels in Hood River and Wasco counties will be prohibited.
The public is also reminded that the use of tracer ammunition or exploding targets is illegal within the District during fire season. As of January 1, 2017 sky lanterns and other luminaries were prohibited in Oregon.
Year to date for 2017 human caused fires have accounted for two-thirds of the fires in the Central Oregon District. Following Regulated Closure restrictions can reduce ignitions and limit damage to our natural resources including air, water, and soil. For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.