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Dry forests bring restrictions

A forest order has been in effect since July 26 that restricts many recreational uses of fire and Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) use. It is hoped that through these restrictions, wildfires on the national forest may be prevented.

The continuing hot, dry weather, along with late summer lightning storms combine to create challenging times for firefighters.

Specifically, dispersed campfires, all Off-Highway Vehicles use including on the McCubbins Gulch and Rock Creek trail system, and smoking outside enclosed buildings or vehicles is prohibited in areas east of Highway 35. Since this date, campfires have been only allowed in designated campgrounds within fire rings in this specified area of the forest.

Visit the Mt. Hood National Forest website (www.fs.usda.gov/mthood) to view the full list of campgrounds where fires are still allowed.

This order does not apply to operations regulated through the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) system. Firewood cutting, timber operations, and operations performed by contractors on National Forest System Land will continue to be regulated through IFPL as appropriate.

Within the past few months, firefighting crews were called out to suppress several human-caused fires. Wildfire starts during the hot, dry summer and fall pose a greater threat to firefighters, personal property, and general public safety because they can be harder to control and spread quickly.

“We know that campfires are a big part of camping, but at this time of the year, we all need to do our part to ensure the safety of the public,” said Kameron Sam, the Barlow District Ranger. “When we have so many fires caused by people leaving campfires unattended or not properly putting them out, it puts a strain on our resources and puts our firefighters and the public at undue risk.”

Although campfires are still allowed in fire rings at most developed campgrounds on the Mt. Hood National Forest, campfires are banned in more remote or walk-in campgrounds on the eastside of the forest. If campers have a fire within a designated campground, they are encouraged to keep fires small. All campfires must be attended at all times and drowned with water, stirred, and cold to the touch before being left unattended.

Individuals starting fires may be held responsible for the costs of property damage and staffing fires as well as criminal charges for any possible loss of life. The Mt. Hood National Forest asks that visiting members of the public please follow these guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment.

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