Posts tagged: fires
PUBLIC LANDS — The fire-fighting season is winding down, and now, as burning conditions are controllable, the planned use of fire is about to begin for the benefit of forests health and wildlife habitat.
Here the plan from the Idaho Pandhandle National Forests:
National forest visitors this fall can expect to see occasional smoke and short term area closures due to planned prescribed fires in various locations across the Idaho Panhandle.
Hunters, hikers, campers and other forest visitors should check the Idaho Panhandle National Forest (IPNF) website for prescribed fire locations and updates before venturing into the woods this fall. Not all planned locations will be ignited this fall, but when conditions are right the forest website will be updated and fire crews will post signs in the area and visit nearby campsites prior to ignition.
“Our prescribed fires complement local community wildfire protection plans, and provide great benefits to forest health,” said District Ranger Chad Hudson. “The end result will be reduced wildfire risks for local communities, improved wildlife habitat and a large step toward restoring the forest’s resiliency to threats such as uncharacteristic fires, insects and disease.”
Active burning will occur at each site for a period of 2-3 days, with smoldering fire afterward until rain or snow extinguishes the fires. Burn areas can pose very hazardous conditions such as rapid and unpredictable spreading of flames, falling trees, heavy smoke and limited visibility, and rolling rocks and logs. Members of the public are urged to stay away from these areas during burning operations and for a few days afterward. If you plan on recreating or hunting in these project areas make sure you understand your location relative to the burn units. If you find yourself in an active burn area, you should travel downslope or away from the predominant path of flames, because fire typically burns fastest upslope. When burn dates or date ranges are forecasted, signs will be posted along access roads and near affected trailheads and trail junctions. Temporary access restrictions or closures may be utilized if deemed necessary for public safety.
Contact your local US Forest Service office.
PUBLIC LANDS – Wildfires scattered throughout the northwest are affecting access to niches of national forests and other lands the public normally has access to for hunting, fishing, camping, berry picking and other late-summer pursuits.
Glacier and Yellowstone Parks have had to close sections of road briefly because of fires.
Near Priest Lake, the road to Lookout Mountain was closed for a couple of days recently and reopened as State Lands crews fought a small fire.
Huge areas of central and southern Idaho are closed by major forest fires as sportsmen plan their early-season hunts.
Most fires and restrictions can be tracked online at www.InciWeb.com.
Otherwise, call local ranger district offices for updates.
PUBLIC LANDS — Forest Service firefighters are continue to attack a four-acre wildfire today just east of Coeur d’Alene near Wolf Lodge, says Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forests spokesman.
The fire is along Marie Creek, which includes a popular hiking trail two and a half miles north of I-90 and five miles east of the Wolf Lodge exit.
Smoke and firefighting aircraft may be visible from the interstate.
The Marie Creek Fire is lightning caused and was first noted as a one-acre fire late Sunday night, Kirchner said.
Firefighters, including helicopters, Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) and ground crews, spent Monday constructing fire line and dropping retardant to slow and contain the blaze. Firefighting actions today will include additional fire line construction, and water and retardant drops.
Firefighting efforts are complicated by the difficult terrain, he said.
“The closest private property is located more than a mile to the west, but at this time there are no threats to structures.”
Further updates for this wildfire will be posted at www.inciweb.org
HUNTING — The wildfire — considred human-caused — that's already burned 80,000 acres near Ellensburg, is scorching the winter range of one of the state's most important elk herds.
The extent of the impacts is yet unknown, but the Colockum herd almost surely will be impacted this winter. Beyond that, there's room for hope that the fire could be a net gain. Assessments will come after the fire's out.
Read details in this story by Scott Sandsberry of the Yakima Herald-Republic.
CAMPING — Fires and charcoal barbecue grills — even in designated campsites — have been temporarily banned in Washington State Parks starting today to coincide with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources ban on outdoor fires announced on Tuesday.
The statewide ban is in effect through Sept. 30 and prohibits campfires in developed campgrounds and other recreational fires, although State Parks leave the option open to allow campfires sooner if weather cooperates.
Campers at state parks will be allowed to use devices that allow for control of combustion, including propane and liquid gas stoves appropriate for camping and backcountry use; propane barbecue devices that do not use solid briquettes; propane or pressurized white gas warming devices that have a shield or base; and solid fuel citronella or other candles in a metal bucket or glass container.
FLY FISHING — BYOB if you’re heading to the Avery area of the St. Joe River this weekend.
The St. Joe Pub and Grill, formerly the landmark Avery Trading Post, went up in flames around 1 a.m. on Tuesday in a blaze that tested the will of locals to keep it from spreading.
The aftermath has left the town’s main drag a lot drier, and looking like a hockey player’s smile.
But the fishing continues to be excellent on the St. Joe River, said Ben Scheffelmaier of Scheffy’s Motel.
Following is a first-hand account of the fire from The Rev. Cynthia Wuts, who was with her family for a fly fishing adventure in the area when they just happened to be bunked in a hot spot that had nothing to do with fishing.
Around 1:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, I was awakened by someone honking his horn on the street where were staying. We heard a couple guys yelling and I went to look out the window to see what the commotion was and saw some sparks flying and thought it was crazy kids partying and lighting fireworks, which is not unusual in Avery.
Then I noticed that there was a brighter, orange glow, brighter than the street lights reflecting on the building across the street. I opened our door to the outside and saw that the tavern next door had flames shooting through the roof. I got (the others) out of bed and we got out of there as the two buildings are fairly close together. A wooden shed sits between them and it had lumber and old tires on the roof…not to mention the propane tank alongside the tavern.
My husband got us in the car and moved it a good distance away and when he determined it that the flames were still far enough away from our building, they … ran over to help one of the townspeople who had arrived with some fire hoses. The tavern was fully involved in just a matter of minutes and totally destroyed.
No one was hurt. However the thought I had as did most folks was “thank God this wasn't August” or the fire would have quickly ran up the forested hill behind the tavern and thrown enough embers to set other buildings (including a fuel pumping station just up the road from the tavern) on fire and it could have been a real catastrophe.
Avery is a very small village with mostly old wooden buildings in a narrow river canyon, so it wouldn't have taken long for falling embers to have started the rest of the town and surrounding forest on fire.
The next morning the owner of the fly fishing shop went up the mountain road on the opposite side of Avery and found where embers had fallen onto Kelly Crick Rd. about a 1/2 mile away. We were very thankful that someone driving by saw the flames and awakened the town folks. Had that not happened the fire would have spread to our place of lodging and we would've been jumping out the window!
Also we're thankful no one was injured while fighting the fire.
Here are some pictures we took…The first picture is the structure fully involved. Photo 2 is when it collapsed and the last one was taken the following morning around 10 a.m.
(BTW, I caught the biggest fish of the trip.)
RIVERS — Fishermen are being displaced from a popular stretch of the Clark Fork River as firefighters try to control a nearby wildfire. The closure announced Wednesday has been extended today.
Here's the latest from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks:
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is closing an additional stretch of the Clark Fork River due to the expansion of the West Mullan Fire. The river is now closed from Big Eddy Fishing Access Site (FAS) to US Forest Service Slowey Campground. This eight mile stretch will remain closed for recreating as long as fire activities continue. The river was previously closed from Big Eddy FAS downstream to Dry Creek FAS, a five mile stretch of river.
In addition, FWP is closing the Big Eddy FAS at the town of Superior and the Dry Creek FAS. These FAS’s are closed in the interest of public safety while fire activity persists in the area. People accessing the river above Big Eddy FAS need to be aware that this site is not available for use. There is no established public boat take-out available below Forest Grove FAS, which is 12 miles upstream of Big Eddy FAS.The West Mullan Fire is changing rapidly, so river users are advised to learn of the most current conditions before visiting this section of the Clark Fork River. We will keep you informed of the updates and additional details on fire and drought-related restrictions and closures on the FWP website home page at fwp.mt.gov
FISHING — The Clark Fork River has been closed from Big Eddy Fishing Access Site to Dry Creek Fishing Access Site along Interstate 90 because of operations related to fighting a wildfire northwest of Superior, Mont., the state Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department has announced.
This is one of the more popular stretches among fly fishers who float the river to catch trout.
This section of river is closed in the interest of public safety while aircraft dip water out of the river to fight the West Mullan Fire. This stretch will remain closed as long as fire activities continue.
Click here for updates.
PUBLIC LANDS — Fireworks are prohibited year-around on national forests, BLM lands, state wildlife lands and most other public lands.
That's the first rule to know before heading out for the Fourth of July holiday.
Here are more considerations from the Idaho Panhandle National Forests:
Responsible Motorized Use. Please stay on designated routes and obtain the appropriate travel maps before you go. On the Colville National Forest as well as the Coeur d’Alene River, Bonners Ferry, Sandpoint and Priest Lake Ranger Districts visitors should carry the FREE Motorized Vehicle Use Maps, available at Forest Service Offices.
No mud bogging is allowed anywhere on National Forest System lands. State traffic laws apply to all motor vehicles including off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and motorcycles of all types.
For the latest information on road conditions, including restrictions, closures and construction, visit the national Idaho Panhandle National Forests’ “Road Status” web page.
Camping. Camping is allowed for up to 14 days within any 30-day period in developed recreation sites, undeveloped recreation sites, campgrounds, wilderness areas and other general forest areas. Visit the Idaho Panhandle National Forests’ “Recreation” web page to check the status of your favorite site.
Campfire Safety. Even if it’s “green,” please practice good sense by using caution with fire and smoking at all times, in all places. Drown, stir and check your campfire for heat with your bare hand. ALL fires must be DEAD OUT when left unattended and before leaving the site.
Keep it Clean to Avoid Bear Encounters! Proper food storage practices are recommended throughout the Idaho Panhandle National Forests and are required on the Sandpoint, Priest Lake and Bonners Ferry Districts. Bears often develop a strong liking for human and pet foods. Store food in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof containers. Keep sleeping areas, tents and sleeping bags free from food and food odors. Wash up, change clothes and remove all scented articles nearby before going to bed. Wild bears avoid people, but bears conditioned to human food can be aggressive and may be euthanized if problems occur. For more information on safety in bear country visit our “Food Storage” web page.
More info: contact your local Idaho Panhandle Forest Service office.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Sinlahekin Wildlife Area manager Dale Swedberg doesn't just preach the gospel of rejuvenating wildlife habitat with controlled prescribed fires — he'll let you see for yourself.
A website with an eye-opening collection of photos compares historic photos of the Sinlanhekin Wildlife Area with photos of the same locations made in recent years.
While the northcentral Washington landscape near Loomis has been improved in some ways, the most glaring observation is the increase in tree cover due to fire supression in the past 90 years. Trees are good, but too many of them clogging the landscape eliminates the habitat diversity needed by wildlife.
Fire has been around as long as life because fire depends on living things to produce the fuels fire needs to exist. A person would think that there might be some important connections developed in such a long relationship. — Dale Swedberg
Resources for learning more about prescribed burns include:
WILDLIFE — Starting as early as Monday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to ignite controlled burns on parts of two wildlife areas in northeast Washington to reduce wildfire risks and enhance wildlife habitat.
WILDLIFE — An orphaned black bear cub burned in a wildfire last summer is recovering and may be released in June, an Idaho wildlife sanctuary official said.
The 4-month-old bear nicknamed “Boo Boo” was discovered by a fisherman in a tree along the Salmon River in August days after the 312-square-mile Mustang wildfire complex passed through the area.
The cub had second-degree burns on all four paws and was malnourished when U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game workers rescued him.
After spending a few weeks at the Idaho Humane Society, the cub has been rehabilitating since September in the Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary near McCall. He lives in a 2-acre forested enclosure with five other orphaned cubs.
Snowdon board member Diane Evans-Mack said Boo Boo is on the road to a full recovery, according to the Ravalli Republic.
“You wouldn’t even be able to notice that his paws were ever burnt now,” she said. “We don’t see him every day, but even when we saw him in September, two weeks after the fire, we noticed just looking at the paws that they were much better. They were still a little bit sensitive, but he was climbing trees and running around.”
The sanctuary tracks the bears’ activity with cameras. Some of the pictures on the sanctuary’s website show Boo Boo and another of the bears playfully wrestling with each other at night.
Evans-Mack said the plan is to release Boo Boo into the wild in June, and he may be collared so the sanctuary can keep track of him.
“We are going to end up holding Boo Boo through the winter, and we’ll wait until the spring bear hunting season is over because he would be a little too naive to be out there,” she said.
The cub’s diet consists of fruit, greens and dry dog food.
“Dog food is actually something that helps him put on a lot of weight,” Evans-Mack explained. “We have interns that go in and use dry dog food, and that puts a lot of fat on the bears. We get donations from local markets of fruits and some greenery that they would discard anyway. We give them salmon sometimes. ”
“We have not seen wildfire conditions this bad in October in a lifetime,” Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said Thursday.
“I’m concerned that the shorter days and colder weather will lull some people into thinking it’s safe to build campfires or bonfires. We need everyone to be cautious, alert and aware of the burn restrictions.”
Virtually all state and federal agencies have extended restrictions on burning — including no fires outside of grated pits in designated campgrounds — at least through Oct. 15.
PUBLIC LANDS — No campfires will be allowed at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation area except at designated grated campfire sites at least through Sunday. See the park's announcement issued Monday:
In accordance with the 2012 Superintendent’s Compendium, Acting Superintendent Natalie Gates has extended the ban for campfires on the exposed lakebed through midnight on October 7, 2012.
Campfires in park-provided fire grates at developed campgrounds are allowed. The use of gas and propane barbeques and self-contained stoves is allowed in the recreation area.
Campfires are never allowed on the beach area above the exposed lakebed.
WILDLIFE LANDS — Wild fires continue to char and in some cases nuke forests and other wildlife habitat in scattered areas around the Inland Northwest. But the future isn't all black.
Before-after-photos at Naneum Lake (above) hint at the impact of the Table Mountain Fire, which has spread over thousands of acres along with other forest fires in the Ellensburg-Leavenworth-Wenatchee area. The fires were ignited by lightning storms around Sept. 9, 2012.
Some areas have been reopened to public access, but hunters need to check ahead with the Forest Service, DNR and Washington Fish and Wildlife Department for closures to distinct areas in the Wenatchee region.
This photo comparison doesn't look good, but Washington Fish and Wildlife experts say the damage/benefits to the Colockum elk herd won't be known until next spring when they can assess the ratio of hot-burned areas with the areas that were lightly burned or skipped-over by the flames.
The fires ultimately will be good for wildlife.
The question is whether the recovery will be measured in years or decades.
HUNTING — It's not news that the fields are dry and fire danger is extreme.
But don't let your guard down when you go out hunting or recreating. One thoughtless moment in these conditions can be costly.
Hunters, who have an especially big responsibility to be fire conscious, should:
Being able to respond is essential in the first few seconds of a fire start when it is small and easily extinguished.
PUBLIC LANDS — Be sure to check ahead for possible fire restriction before setting out for a hunting or camping trip this weekend. Closures are in effect in some areas as fires continue to burn in the absense of fall rains that normally would have wet the landscape by now.
A vast tract of state land including the Colockum area and Stemilt basin are closed to hunting and other recreation due to danger from the Table Mountain Complex fires.
Sgt. Kent Sisson of Chelan County Emergency Management said fire personnel are in the process of posting information boards in the area and signs alerting hunters and other recreators. Fires, including campfires, are also prohibited until further notice.
NO GREENUP COULD IMPACT BIG GAME
The lack of September rain has left big-game without a “fall green-up,” the sprouting of green vegetation in the warm “Indian Summer” after a September rain shower. This greenup is very important to game putting on fat for fall.
The green-up or lack of it factors into their winter survival.
Keep your fingers crossed.
TRAILS — A wildfire burning near Mount Adams forced the closure of part of the Pacific Crest Trail late Thursday.
The closed segment of the trail is between the Williams Mine Trailhead off Forest Road 23 to the junction of the Divide Trail on the Mt. Adams, Ranger District, said Ken Sandusky of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Call the district office for more information, (509) 395-3402.
The Cascade Creek fire, apparently sparked by lightning storms near Mount Adams on Sept. 8, has burned 9,800 acres. Firefighters say its only about 50 percent contained.
PUBLIC LANDS — The 350-acre fire on BLM land that prompted a temporary evacuation of Fishtrap Lake Resort recently was fairly well contained with minimal damange, officials say.
The photo above shows the edges of the fire burning up to the Farmer Landing trailhead west of Fishtrap Lake.
“Horseback riding and hiking along the trail from that trailhead should still be through unburned landscape,” said Steven Smith, BLM recreation manager in Spokane.
“So far, about 54 different fires in Eastern Washington have affected BLM lands,” said Scott Pavey, Spokane District spokesman, noting that some fires farther west are still burning. “A rough total of about 42,500 BLM acres have burned.”
PUBLIC LANDS — “We were sitting pretty good a couple of weeks ago, but there's been marked increase in field dryness,” said Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forest public affairs officer, getting word out that potential for forest fires have changed remarkably in just the past week.
“Monitoring stations in the North Fork Coeur d'Alene, near St. Maries and in the Selkirks are registering in the top 3 percent of dryness ever recorded.”
Forest Service plans for annual fall controlled burns to improve wildlife habitat and clear out forest understory to reduce fire danger next year are on hold until conditions are less volatile, he said.
“Even if it wasn't so dry in the Panhandle, the smoke that's moved into the region would be enough to put off our controlled burning plans because of air quality requirements,” he said.
“At least the smoke is a good reminder that there are fires all around us. We haven't had any significant fires, but we're not out of the woods yet.”