BEND, OR -- With cooler temperatures and a holiday weekend ahead, some campers are anxious for fire restrictions to lift in area forests. Officials with the Willamette National Forest began allowing campfires in designated campgrounds, Tuesday. But, Jean Nelson Dean with the Deschutes National Forest tells KBND local conditions aren't changing anytime soon. "The west side got tremendous amounts of rain in certain areas, and apparently the Willamette got enough to pull back on their public use restrictions. That’s great for the people who want to go out Labor Day. But, unfortunately, here in Central Oregon, we still did not get much precipitation. We still have extremely dry fuels." She adds, "As we saw in the Cove Fire, things can really take off. We still have our full campfire ban. Essentially, what’s allowed is your traditional propane stove and that’s it."
Despite the possibility of precipitation this week, Nelson Dean says that won't be enough to lift bans for several more weeks, at least. "Essentially, we would need a fairly dramatic change, in terms of moisture, to make a change. I would not anticipate anything changing for Labor Day weekend. I know that not having campfires is a challenge for the kind of experience people want to have. But, if you really want to come back the forest and you really want to enjoy it in the future, it’s essential that people pay attention to this."
She suggests checking the website for the specific area where you plan to camp before heading out. Restrictions vary by jurisdictions and whether land is managed by the state or federal government.