Itemizer-Observer staff report

DALLAS — The West Oregon District of the Oregon Department of Forestry, with includes parts of Polk County, declared fire season on July 6, and that comes with restrictions on use of those lands by the public.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, ODF has responded to 178 wildfires statewide. Of those fires, 162 (91 percent) have been human-caused, almost twice the average (95) for this time of year. Along with debris burning, smoking on forestlands (except when in a vehicle on an improved road), the use of sky lanterns, target shooting with the use of tracer ammunition or exploding targets, and the use of fireworks are prohibited during fire season.  

To help prevent human-caused fires, the following restrictions of high-risk activities are in place: cutting/mowing of dried grass, chainsaw use, campfire use, and off-road vehicle use. As the fire season persists and conditions become more suitable for wildfires to start, these regulations will often become more restrictive.

The district now has a system that administers closures and restrictions based on four levels of fire danger: low (green), moderate (blue), High (yellow) and Extreme (red). The restrictions or closure of an activity will change with the most current fire danger level.

“These changes can occur at any time and without notice in order to accommodate for sudden increases in fire danger,” said Eric Jacobs, the community wildlife forester. “As fire season continues, members of the public should monitor the fire danger for their area to know the restrictions that may affect them.”

A complete list and guide is available in electronic or hardcopy form through the  local ODF office. If traveling, plan ahead by contacting the local ODF office, governing agency, or landowner to find out the restrictions for that area.

“With hot, dry conditions forecasted for this summer throughout the district and much of the state, it is important for all who live, work or recreate to know and stay informed of these regulations,” Jacobs said

To find out current fire danger levels and restrictions or to find what fire protection district you belong to, visit: www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/pages/restrictions.aspx and follow the link to “check public fire restrictions”. For more information, please call (503) 934-8146.

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