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BLM bans campfires on its Eastern Washington lands

PUBLIC LANDS —  Extreme fire danger has prompted the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to join Washington state agencies in prohibiting campfires in Eastern Washington, including in developed recreation areas.

The federal agency's fire managers enacted initial fire restrictions in mid-July. Today they updated the restrictions to prohibit the building, maintaining, attending or using a fire of any type, including charcoal briquette fires on lands administered by the BLM’s Spokane District.

An exemption is made for liquefied and bottled gas stoves and heaters provided they are used within an area at least 10 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.

The updated fire restriction will be effective beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, August 14, 2014.

The fire restrictions apply to all BLM managed lands in the following Eastern Washington counties: Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman, and Yakima counties. Restrictions are in place until further notice.

In addition to prohibiting campfires, restrictions on the use of off-road vehicles, smoking, shooting of exploding targets and the use of fireworks is still in effect. A complete, signed fire restriction order can be found at the following websites: 

National forests enacting restrictions on fires, smoking, chain saws

PUBLIC LANDS — National Forest officials in Washington are are restricting activities that could accidentally spark wildfires as the state continues to be tinder dry and in a pall of smoke from other fires.

Starting Tuesday, Aug. 12, campfires will only be allowed only in approved campgrounds on the 1.1 million acre Colville Forest and smoking will be prohibited outside of a vehicle.  These restrictions apply to all areas, roads and trails.

 Liquid gas stoves are exempt from this restriction.

  • Similar restrictions are set to begin Friday, Aug. 8, on the Umatilla National Forest.

The forests will enact "Hoot Owl" wood cutting restrictions, which prohibit use of chainsaws in the woods after 1 p.m. when fire danger increases.

A long handled shovel and a pressurized chemical fire extinguisher not less than 8 oz. in capacity is required by all wood-cutting permit holders.

Motorists should also exercise caution when driving on Forest roads and trails by avoiding dry grass and vegetation; hot exhaust systems can easily ignite dry grasses, said Franklin Pemberton, forest spokesman.

Fireworks are never allowed on national forests.     

Fire, fireworks restricted or banned from public lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Campfires, fireworks and exploding targets are prohibited outside of designated sites on state and federal lands. Agencies are emphasizing those rules in a large-scale fire prevention effort on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday.

Generally speaking, campfires are allowed only in fire pits at developed campgrounds in national parks, most national forests and all state lands. 

Fireworks and exploding targets enjoyed by shooters are banned.

Even shooting at normal targets is banned on some state wildlife areas in Central Washington.

Fires restricting public access; check before you go

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.

Firefighters storm Marie Creek blaze near Wolf Lodge

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

Washington State Parks join ban on fires

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. 

Colockum remains closed by fire danger; region dry, dry, dry

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.

Shooting, smoking, fires restricted on state wildlife lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Citing extreme fire danger in Eastern Washington, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just issued emergency restrictions — including a restrictions on target shooting, smoking and open fires —  for all state wildlife lands.

Many of these restrictions already are in place on national forests.

Read on for the details.

Fires affecting front country and backcountry

WILD FIRES from recent lightning storms on tinder-dry landscapes are an issue for people heading outdoors in almost every direction.

Here's a regional roundup from Mountain West News:

Thousands of lightning strikes spark hundreds of fires in Washington state
The 300-acre Cascade Creek Fire is the worst of the 200 wildfires sparked by lightning in Washington state over the weekend.
Portland Oregonian;Sept. 10
Wildfire in southern B.C. forces hundreds from their homes
Strong winds pushed a wildfire first reported Sunday afternoon across more than 200 acres in southern B.C., and more than 1,550 residents near Peachland were ordered to evacuate.
Vancouver Sun;Sept. 10
 

Evacuations ordered as wildfire burns on Wyoming's Casper Mountain
A wildfire first reported at 4 p.m. Sunday on the east side of Casper Mountain in Wyoming grew quickly to hundreds of acres and forced the evacuation of campgrounds and dozens of homes.
Casper Star-Tribune;Sept. 10

More evacuations ordered on Mustang Complex fire in Idaho
A level 3 evacuation order was issued for residents along the Highway 93 corridor from Quartz Creek to North Fork in Idaho on Sunday, as the Mustang Fire Complex moved closer to that corridor.
Ravalli Republic (AP);Sept. 9

Wildfire threatens resort in W. Wyoming
The Little Horsethief Fire that ignited Saturday afternoon grew quickly to 800 acres, and on Sunday, residents living on Snow King Mountain near Jackson, Wyo., were put on notice that they may need to evacuate.
Jackson Hole Daily;Sept. 10
 
Crews have 8,000-acre wildfire in Montana 51 percent contained
Fire investigators believe the 8,000-acre wildfire burning in Montana south of Livingston was human caused.
Billings Gazette;Sept. 10
 

Fire restrictions loom for Labor Day weekend campers, hunters

PUBLIC LANDS — Fire danger as well as still-burning wild fires will be a major factor for some campers and hunters heading for recreation areas in Idaho, Montana and Washington during Labor Day weekend.   

Smoking, campfires and use of chain saws are restricted on most state and federal lands to prevent more fires. Access roads and trails to some areas are closed because of existing fires, notably in Montana and central Idaho.

For example, the Selway River Trail, popular with hikers and hunters in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, is closed this week as fire crews clear timber falling on the route in the Moose Creek District.

No major fires are listed on the Colville or Idaho Panhandle National Forests, but fire restrictions are in place.

Despite cooler temperatures, fire danger continues to be rated extreme in much of the region, said Joani Bosworth, spokeswoman for the Umatilla National Forest. 

National forest websites are the best all-hours sources for updates on fire-related restrictions.

Websites with updates on fires and restrictions include:

THROUGHOUT THE WEST

IDAHO

WASHINGTON