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Hunters, recreationists urged to think ahead with fires raging in Washington, Idaho

UPDATED: Sat., Aug. 25, 2018, 5:08 p.m.

In this photo released by The Eastern Area Incident Management Team, a Fire Boss plane, seen center, a fixed wing aircraft used in wild land fire suppression, continues to battle a wildfire in Eastern Washington on Aug. 5. (Eastern Area IMT / AP)
In this photo released by The Eastern Area Incident Management Team, a Fire Boss plane, seen center, a fixed wing aircraft used in wild land fire suppression, continues to battle a wildfire in Eastern Washington on Aug. 5. (Eastern Area IMT / AP)

With fires still roaring across the West, hunters and recreationists may find themselves out of luck when they head out.

For hunters, the most important consideration is whether the land they want to hunt has been restricted because of fire.

“A lot of those access restrictions are on U.S. Forest service land and other public lands,” Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Madonna Luers said.

With large fires burning in central and northeast Washington, Leurs urged hunters and recreationists to check before they go.

“When you have active fires going, some roads are closed,” she said. “Some trails are closed.”

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game urged hunters to do the same.

With Idaho’s archery season opening at the end of this month, and large fires still roaring in central and North Idaho, IDFG urged foresight.

“It’s important that hunters know fire closures often extend far beyond the boundaries of the active fires,” a news release said.

Those land closures could continue into October or later depending on safety concerns. In most cases, fires won’t completely close a game unit.

For hunters with controlled hunt tags, however, IDFG is offering a rain check if “access to a hunting unit is completely blocked by fire.”

The rain check will defer the controlled hunt tag for one year.

To request a rain check, hunters must submit their tags and permits with a letter describing how the fires prevented them from hunting, according to the release. Letters should be sent to the license section at Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise 83707.

The fires won’t just impact hunters. Hikers, bikers, equestrians and others should be aware of road and trail closures.

In Montana, the Gem Peak fire lookout was closed because of the proximity of the Rampike fire. The tower will most likely remain closed for the remainder of the season. The tower has been wrapped and the fire is mostly under control. Officials with the Kootenai National Forest will be calling people who reserved the tower and offering refunds.

On Thursday, numerous roads were closed on the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle national forests in response to the Rampike fire.

Still, there is plenty of land open to recreation. It just takes a little more thought and planning.


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