If your camping plans are taking you east of Interstate 5 this summer, be prepared to rough it without an open fire.
Due to extreme fire danger brought on by a drier-than-average spring, June’s record-busting heat wave, and drought conditions, the Oregon Department of Forestry made the call today to ban campfires in state parks and state-managed forests throughout most of Oregon. That rule goes into effect July 22 and applies even to sites that have designated fire rings.
The prohibition extends not only to traditional wood-burning blazes, but also to those fueled by charcoal and pellets as well as candles, tiki torches and any other device that emits flames or embers.
Campers can still use portable cooking stoves that operate on bottled liquefied fuel and propane lanterns. But the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department stresses that you can do even more to reduce fire risk: Pack food to your campsite that does not require cooking.
“We are seeing record-low humidity in much of the state,” Oregon State Forester Nancy Hirsch stated in a press release, “and as forest fuels dry out there is tremendous potential for fire to establish and spread quickly.”
Forgoing the toasted-marshmallow tradition may be a bit of a letdown, but the restrictions will help reduce human-caused fires, which is how approximately 70% of all blazes are sparked in Oregon.
The Forest Service warns that additional bans may be enacted as fire season presses on. And just because your camping destination may be west of I-5, don’t assume that open fires are allowed. On July 20, the Siuslaw National Forest—which stretches from the edge of the Willamette Valley to the Pacific Ocean and is typically wetter and cooler than the east side of the state—outlawed campfires outside of developed campgrounds and sand camps.
“Even western Oregon and areas along the coast are extremely dry this year,” Kevin Larkin, activating forest supervisor, stated on the property’s Facebook account.
Always check the Forest Service and Oregon Parks and Recreation websites for the latest fire restriction updates before heading out.