Latest from The Spokesman-Review
HUNTING/FISHING — Despite rain that's fallen in some areas in the past few days, Stage II fire restrictions will go into effect Tuesday on all private, state and federally managed or protected lands, roads and trails in North Idaho and portions of Central Idaho.
- Several private timber companies have enacted sweeping temporary closures to public access.
Drought conditions coupled with very high fire danger levels continue to persist in much of Idaho.
Under Stage II fire restrictions, using a fire, campfire, or stove fire is prohibited, as well as operating vehicles such as ATVs, UTVs and pickups off designated roads and trails.
Smoking is restricted to enclosed vehicles or buildings, or in areas cleared of vegetation.
Any activity that generates flame or flammable material, including operating a chain saw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine, is prohibited between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Any work done outside the time restriction must include one hour of patrolling the area for fires after the work is completed.
To assist hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts this summer, the latest fire activity, area restrictions and links related to fire is now available on Idaho Fish and Game’s website.
Go directly to the latest information about Idaho fires at Idahofireinfo.blogspot.com, an interagency website developed by federal and state agencies to provide timely and accurate information for wildland fires, fire restrictions and prevention.
- Firefighters in North Idaho have had to fight fires ignited by careless campers even as other fires burn in mountains around them. See story.
"It is still uncertain how the wild fires might affect the upcoming hunting seasons," Idaho Fish and Game says in a media release.
The agency does not recommend closing hunts or altering season dates in response to fire restrictions since most fires do not grow large enough to affect an entire hunt unit.
PUBLIC LANDS — Hot, dry weather has forced land managers to impose restrictions on camping, burning and access throughout the Northwest, as we rounded up in a story in Thursday Outdoors.
Since then, more restrictions have come up, including:
- Weyerhaeuser closing its timberlands in Western Washington and Oregon to the public because of fire concerns.
- Montana limiting fishing hours in the Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Blackfoot rivers.
On Thursday, the Bureau of Land Management’s Spokane District finally got its act together and began its seasonal closure of Towell Falls Road to motorized traffic.
The route, typically open from April to June, is particularly susceptible to wildfire ignition from vehicle use due to the presence of tall vegetation on the roadway during the summer season.
The Rock Creek Management Area, located 20 miles south of Sprague, Washington, can still be accessed on foot, horseback, and bike.
Info: BLM Spokane District Office at (509) 536-1200 or visit
Updated 3:35 p.m. with DNR burn ban announcement.
WILD FIRES — With last year's Carlton Complex fires still heavy in the memories of locals as well as visitors and anglers, fire officials say they’re concerned that big wildfires already are popping up this summer in North Central Washington.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources today announced a burn ban will start Wednesday, June 17, on DNR-protected lands east of the crest of the Cascade Mountains.
- Update Jun 17: Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area has banned all fires outside of designated campfire grates in developed campgrounds.
All outdoor burning already had been banned in both Chelan and Douglas counties.
DNR's Eastern Washington burn ban applies to state forests, state parks and forestlands under DNR fire protection. It does not include federally owned lands such as national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges or other areas administered by federal agencies.
Over the weekend, North Central Washington firefighters battled a 1,060-acre fire in Douglas County near Wells Dam, a 600-acre fire east of Soap Lake, and a 6,700-acre fire near Coulee City, the Wenatchee World reports
All of the fires were contained by midday Monday, and causes were still being investigated.
"This is early for the big fires," said Grant County Fire District 7 Chief Kirk Sheppard. "We’re fighting fires now that we would normally see in August."
In 2015 so far, there have been 241 wildfire starts throughout the state. Last year’s fire season was the biggest on record in Washington, with the largest state fire ever, the Carlton Complex, destroying more than 250,000 acres. More than 1 million acres of Washington’s landscape has been consumed by wildfire since 2009.
A fire in west Spokane last week burned into the Palisades area, snuffing out trees and a trail bridge used by hikers and mountain bikers.
Campfire restrictions also are popping up.
PUBLIC LANDS — The Wenatchee Ranger District will begin campfire restrictions starting Friday, noting that limiting fires to designated campgrounds in the first half of June is far earlier than normal.
A campfire restriction means that wood and charcoal fires are allowed only in designated campgrounds with fire rings, some classified Wilderness areas and specially designated sites. Pressurized liquid gas stoves are still allowed. Briquette fires are not allowed in the restricted area.
The campfire restrictions do not include developed campgrounds on the Wenatchee River Ranger District, according to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest website.
“The hot and windy conditions have cured many of the fire fuels in our area,” said Michelle Ellis, Fire Management Division Chief for Wenatchee River. “We try to avoid implementing campfire restrictions until absolutely necessary, but we’re there and we want to keep people and communities safe.”
Info: Wenatchee River Ranger District, (509) 548-2550.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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
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
Fire investigators believe the 8,000-acre wildfire burning in Montana south of Livingston was human caused.
Billings Gazette;Sept. 10
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
- Forest fire activity updates: www.inciweb.org
- Clearwater-Nez Perce National Forest: http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nezperce/alerts-notices
- Idaho Panhandle National Forests: www.fs.fed.us/ipnf/
- Colville National Forest: www.fs.usda.gov/colville
- Umatilla National Forest (Blue Mountains): www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla/.
- Washington state lands: http://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/firedanger/BurnRisk.aspx