Fire restrictions are being eased on the northern half of the forest but remain high in the southern half.
As a result of cooler temperatures, increased humidity levels, and some precipitation, public use restrictions on the Blue Mountain and Prairie City Ranger Districts of the Malheur National Forest will drop to Phase A at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, according to a Forest Service press release.
The Emigrant Creek Ranger District will remain at Phase C due to continued dry conditions and no recent rainfall on the south half of the forest.
The two northern districts will also move to Industrial Fire Precaution Level 2 (IFPL II) and high fire danger. The southern district will remain at IFPL IV and extreme fire danger.
Phase A restrictions include:
• Operating a chainsaw outside the hours of 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. local time is prohibited. A one-hour fire watch is required after saw operations cease. Saw operators are required to have an ax (minimum 2 lb. head, 26-inch length), shovel (8-inch wide, 26-inch length) and fire extinguisher (minimum ABC 8 oz.) in their possession.
• Campfires are allowed only in fire pits surrounded by dirt, rock or commercial rings and in areas not conducive to rapid fire spread. All flammable material shall be cleared within a 3-foot radius from the edge of the pit and free of overhanging material. Use existing pits wherever possible.
• Campfires must be attended at all times, and completely extinguished prior to leaving.
• Persons with campfires are required to have a tool that can serve as a shovel and 1 gallon of water in their possession. The intent of this requirement is to ensure individuals with a campfire to have the tools necessary to completely extinguish their campfire.
• Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled gas and wood burning stoves equipped with a chimney that is at least 5 feet in length with a spark-arresting screen consisting of quarter-inch mesh hardware cloth are allowed.
• Use of charcoal briquettes is permitted under the same restrictions as campfires as described above.
• It is prohibited to operate a motorized vehicle off National Forest System roads, to operate a motor vehicle on National Forest System roads where vegetation or other flammable material comes into contact with the vehicle’s undercarriage or being on a closed National Forest System road where access has been impeded or blocked by earthen berm, logs, boulders, barrier, barricade or gate.
• Smoking is prohibited, except within enclosed vehicles and buildings, or areas cleared of flammable material with a minimum clearance of 3 feet.
Recreationists, firewood cutters, hunters and other forest users can all help by closely adhering to restrictions, operating safely and cautiously and keeping up-to-date on the latest orders and regulations.
Regulated closures are in effect on state and private lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry. All open burning, including burn barrels, on lands protected by the John Day Unit is prohibited during fire season. Additional restrictions on industrial operations remain in effect.
For more information about Malheur National Forest restrictions, call 541-575-3000 or visit fs.usda.gov/malheur.