Due to extremely dry and hot weather conditions on the east side of the Mt. Hood National Forest, officials have issued public use restrictions effective Friday, July 11.
Dispersed campfires, offhighway vehicle (OHV) use, and smoking outside enclosed buildings or vehicles will be prohibited in the on National Forest lands generally east of Highways 26 and 35, encompassing the entire Barlow Ranger District and part of the Hood River Ranger District. Forest visitors should check the map of the restriction area on the Forest website to determine if these restrictions apply to their destination. Beginning on July 11, campfires are allowed in developed recreation sites within fire rings. Please visit the Mt Hood National Forest web site (www.fs.usda.gov/mthood) to view the full list of campgrounds where campfires will still be allowed as well as the fire restriction map. This order includes operations regulated through the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) system.
As of July 11, the IFPL was raised to Level 2. Restrictions on firewood cutting, timber operations, and operations performed by contractors on National Forest System Land will need to follow level 2 requirements until further notice.
Under these fire restrictions the following acts are prohibited on National Forest lands as depicted on the order map:
- Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or charcoal fire, except in locations listed in Exhibit B of the Order.
- Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed campground or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter, which is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
- Operating an internal combustion engine except a motor vehicle on National Forest System Roads, or designated parking areas
- Possessing or using motorized vehicles on National Forest system trails.
A “developed recreation site with a fire ring” is a recreation site that: 1) is included on the list of areas where campfires are permitted; and 2) which contains a Forest-provided fire ring. Within the past few weeks, firefighting crews were called out to suppress several human-caused fires. Wildfire starts with the current hot, dry conditions pose a greater threat to firefighters, personal property, and public safety in general.
“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 Barlow District Ranger Kameron Sam. “When campfires are unattended or not properly put out, it puts a strain on our resources and puts our firefighters and the public at undue risk.”
Campfires will still be allowed in fire rings at most developed campgrounds on the East side of the Mt. Hood National Forest, but campfires are banned in primitive or “dispersed” camping areas. If campers have a fire within a fire ring in a developed campground, they are encouraged to keep fires small. All campfires must be attended at all times and drowned with water, stirred, and be cold to the touch before being left unattended. Individuals starting fires will 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 rules to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment.