LAKEVIEW, Ore. – Beautiful fall weather is in the forecast for this weekend and while it will be a great weekend for recreation and woodcutting, area residents and visitors are reminded to be aware of current closure orders and restrictions for the area where they are planning to work or play.
Effective tomorrow, Friday, October 1, the agencies of the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP) will be lowering the Fire Danger from “Extreme” to “High”. Even with rain early this week and cooler temperatures, fuels are still dry and caution is needed to prevent wildfires.
Public Use Restrictions, which regulates things like the use of campfires, chainsaws and other activities that could start a wildfire, are being lifted tomorrow, Friday, October 1, on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Sheldon-Hart Mountain and Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complexes and most of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lakeview District.
Restrictions remain in place in the Klamath River Canyon. Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Regulated Use Closures also remain in effect. More information on ODF Regulated Use can be found at https://www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/pages/restrictions.aspx.
Area residents and visitors are also reminded that the Emergency Fire Closure Orders for the Bootleg and Cougar Peak Fires are still in effect on the Fremont-Winema National Forest.
The Bootleg Fire is referenced as Closure Order Number 06-02-21-09 and on September 2 was reduced to the fire perimeter. The interior of the fire will remain closed until August 31, 2022, unless it can be rescinded earlier. This includes all roads, recreation sites and facilities.
Recreation sites closed within the area include Gearhart Wilderness Area; Mitchell Monument Historic Site; Currier Guard Station; Deming Creek, Horseglades, Lookout Rock, North Fork Sprague, Augur Creek, Deadhorse Lake, and Lee Thomas Trailheads; and Corral Creek, Campbell Lake, Deadhorse Lake, Lee Thomas and Sandhill Crossing Campgrounds.
The Cougar Peak Fire Closure is referenced as Order Number 06-02-21-10. The closure area generally north of Oregon State Highway 140 between Lakeview and Quartz Mountain; east of Forest Roads 3660, 34 and 28; south of Forest Road 3315, also known as the High Road, and Oregon State Highway 31 between Paisley and Valley Falls; west of U.S. Highway 395 between Valley Falls and Lakeview; as well as a section of the Warner Mountains northeast of Lakeview.
Numerous recreation sites are closed within the area, including North Brattain, Brattain Butte and South Brattain Recreation Areas; the Fremont National Recreation Trail and Oregon Timber Trails within the closure area; Cottonwood, Cottonwood Creek, Cox Pass, Moss Pass, Hanan/Coffeepot, Bear Creek, and Mill Trailheads; and Cottonwood, Clear Springs, Happy Camp, Dairy Point, Jones Crossing, Chewaucan Crossing, Marster Spring, and Moss Meadow Campgrounds.
While progress is being made on the Cougar Peak Fire, there is not an estimated time for the closure area to be reduced.
“There are still hundreds of wildland firefighters and large equipment working on the Cougar Peak Fire,” said Interagency Deputy Fire Management Officer Coley Neider. “We understand this is an area a lot of people enjoy in the fall, especially for hunting and camping, but it is necessary for the area to remain closed right now for public and firefighter safety. Cooperation from area residents and visitors while we continue to work in the area is greatly appreciated.”
There will be public notifications when these closure orders are modified or lifted. Both closure orders, including maps, are posted at www.fs.usda.gov/fremont-winema.
Violations of either of these closure orders are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment of not more than 6 months or both.
For personal use and commercial woodcutters planning to cut firewood this weekend, the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) is lowering to Level II tomorrow, Friday, October 1.
This means chainsaw use is now permitted between 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. on federal lands, including the Fremont-Winema National Forest and Lakeview District BLM. Chainsaws can be used at loading sites or on roads at any time of day.
Personal and commercial woodcutters are reminded of their responsibility to stay informed of current IFPLs and all restrictions that apply to activities conducted on public lands. Failure to comply with precautionary fire requirements may result in the issuance of a Violation Notice.
“This weekend is going to be great for getting outside and we are happy to be able to allow campfires and chainsaw use starting Friday,” said Neider. “Even with conditions improving, fuels are still very dry and can carry fire. We need the continued efforts of the public to prevent wildfires this fall.”
- Make sure campfires are never left unattended and are dead out and cold to the touch before leaving. Use plenty of water to drown the fire.
- If you are using a portable stove, make sure the area is clear of grasses and other fine fuels. Prevent stoves from tipping and starting a fire.
- Ensure chainsaws and other equipment, including generators, are maintained and have an approved spark arrester in good condition.
- Make sure off-road vehicles have a properly functioning catalytic converter or approved spark arrester.
- Never park a vehicle over dead grass and avoid driving through tall grass – your vehicle can ignite the fuels and start a fire.
- If towing a boat or trailer, ensure safety chains are properly secured and not dragging.
“Fire season is continuing in Klamath and Lake counties and while the risk is reduced, current conditions can still carry wildfire quickly,” said Randall Baley, ODF Protection Unit Forester in Klamath Falls. “There is a need to remain vigilant over the coming weeks while conditions continue to gradually improve on public and private wildlands.”
Suspected wildfires should be reported to 911 as soon as possible. Visit https://scofmp.org for more information on restrictions and IFPL.