The onset of high wildfire danger has prompted Oregon Department of Forestry to tighten public fire prevention restrictions in its Central Oregon District. Effective at 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
These restrictions apply to private and non-federal public forestlands in 12 counties including Harney, Morrow, Grant, Wheeler, Gilliam, Hood River, Wasco, Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson, along with small portions of Umatilla and Lake counties.
Our news partner, News Channel 21, says District Forester George Ponte said the recent hot, dry weather is drying out the vegetation quickly, and as a result, fire danger levels have increased dramatically.
"We have had several significant lightning-sparked fires, in recent days and we need the public's help in preventing any human-caused fires," Ponte said.
"Regulated use" places the following restrictions on activities in the forest:
1. Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads.
2. 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. Open fires are allowed if conducted in compliance with a valid Burning Permit.
3. Chainsaw use is prohibited between 1 p.m. and 8 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 oz. or larger fire extinguisher. In addition, a fire watch is required at least one hour following the use of each saw.
4. Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads and except for use by a landowner and employees of the landowner on their own land while conducting activities associated with their livelihood.
5. Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling in a motorized vehicle in the forest (except on federal and state highways, county roads and driveways): one shovel and one gallon of water or one 2-Â1/2 lb. or larger fire extinguisher, except all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles which must be equipped with an approved spark arrestor in good working condition.
6. Use of fireworks is prohibited.
7. Cutting, grinding and welding of metal is prohibited between 1 p.m. and 8 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 -Â1/2 lb. or larger fire extinguisher in good working order.
8. Mowing of dried grass with power-driven equipment is prohibited between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
9. Blasting is prohibited.
10. Any electric fence controller in use shall be: 1) Listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services; and 2) Operated in compliance with manufacturer's instructions.
These restrictions apply to private and non-federal public lands protected by the Department of Forestry. Visitors to National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands should check with the U.S. Forest Service or BLM to see which fire safety restrictions apply.