Effective Saturday, Sept. 14, the Vale District Bureau of Land Management will lift fire use restrictions on all Vale BLM-administered lands, including Bureau of Reclamation lands, in eastern Oregon.
Fire managers have determined that cooler temperatures, shorter days, current weather projections and decreased overall fire danger justify the lifting, which is about two weeks earlier than in past years, but warn fire season is not over yet.
“Once grasses dry out in early summer, they react quickly to changes in the weather the rest of the year,” Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist Al Crouch said. “Even though it has been cool and wet recently, a few days of warm, dry and windy conditions can dry out dead grass and brush quickly and elevate fire danger again.”
After lightning, equipment fires are the most common cause of wildfires in the Vale District. As a precaution, keep vehicles off dry grass, including ATVs and UTVs. Check spark arrestors and keep hot exhaust away from dry grasses. Ensure undercarriages are clean and free of debris buildup around exhaust systems and moving parts. Keep trailer chains and tie-down straps from dragging and maintain brakes, wheel bearings and tires to help minimize the risk of creating sparks.
“So far this year, we have experienced fewer human-caused fires than normal,” Crouch said. “This is largely due to the public’s fire safety practices and compliance with fire restrictions, and we want to thank them for that.”
Campfires must never be left unattended or abandoned on federal lands. To extinguish a campfire, pour water on the coals, stir them with a shovel or other tool, and drown them again. A fire is “dead out” when it is cool to the touch.
When cutting firewood, check equipment before departing and have a fire extinguisher, water, and shovel on hand while working.
Steel and cooper core ammunition has a high likelihood of creating sparks when they hit hard objects like rocks and metal targets. Consider using paper or cardboard targets that are safer to shoot.
The Oregon/ Washington General Fire Prevention Order issued May 8 will remain in effect through Oct. 31. It prohibits open burning other than campfires and requires all flammable material to be removed from around the campfire itself to prevent it from escaping.
Fireworks, exploding targets, and incendiary and tracer ammunition are always prohibited on public lands.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of the sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $96 billion in sales of goods and services throughout the American economy in the fiscal year 2017. These activities supported more than 468,000 jobs.