Regional News

Hunting may be Impacted on National Forest Lands near Wildfires


Oct 08, 2014

With many different hunting seasons occurring it is important for hunters and other forest users to be aware of areas of the national forest that are closed due to hazards from recent wildfires.                                                                                          

Some fire area closures have been modified or lifted for portions of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest lands within and adjacent to the Carlton Complex, Chiwaukum Complex, Duncan Fire, and Mills Canyon Fire.

The only Carlton Complex closures remaining in place in the Methow Valley Ranger District are on Roads No. 300 and 370 in Finley Canyon.  The Duncan Fire area closure has been reduced to encompass the Entiat Valley Road north of Tommy Creek and the fire area east and north of the road. The closure still includes Shady Pass Road from the Entiat side to its intersection with Big Hill Road No. 112.  Mills Canyon Road No. 5200 is closed weekdays through October 13th due to Burned Area Emergency Response operations occurring in the Mills Canyon Fire area.  Chiwaukum Fire area closure has also been reduced to include Chiwaukum, Thomson, Painter, Battle Canyon, Hatchery, and Fall creeks.  Area closures due to the Hansel Creek and Shoofly fires on the Wenatchee River Ranger District remain unchanged.  Go to the forest web site for closure area maps and information (http://go.usa.gov/wWZk).

Many areas within the ­­­­recent fire perimeters continue to present significant public safety hazards and in some cases will for several years to come.  These hazards are primarily associated with falling dead trees and flash flood impacts. The amount and level of public access provided is largely dictated by these public safety concerns and liabilities.

 “Our number one priority is human safety and we want to avoid accidents and injuries as much as possible.  Stump holes, unstable soils, flooding potential, washed out roads, and falling trees and branches are all things that forest users need to be aware of,” Deputy Forest Supervisor Jason Kuiken said.  “Any time you enter the forest, you should be aware of your environment and changing weather conditions. The environment in and adjacent to recently burned areas is highly susceptible to rainstorms and wind events,” he said.

You are responsible for your own safety!  Remember to always look up, look down and look all around for hazards before setting up camp, while hiking through the woods, or when stopped along any forest road.   Hunters should be prepared with chainsaws or other equipment to clear the road should the exit be obstructed by falling trees.  

“We’ll continue to work hard to monitor and mitigate these hazards.  However, areas might need to be re-closed if safety conditions change,” Kuiken said.

The length of closure is dependent upon many criteria, including public safety, protection of property, and protection of forest resources (i.e., soils, vegetation, water quality, wildlife, fisheries, recreation, heritage impacts, etc.).  

Only fire personnel are allowed to go into or be upon National Forest land within the closed areas.  Hunters are encouraged to check conditions of their desired hunting area before they go and to seek alternative hunting areas.  Maps and descriptions of closed areas are available at most ranger district offices and also on the forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/okawen .  Any violation of the closure order is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for individuals and/or imprisonment up to six (6) months.

OTHER KEY INFORMATION:

-        You are responsible for your own safety!

-        Check in with a friend or family member; tell them where you are going, when you’re leaving, and when you plan to return.

-        Whenever possible, travel in pairs.

-        When parking your vehicle, look up for overhead hazards within 1½ times the length of the tallest tree close to your vehicle.

-        Don’t camp in areas that have dead trees within 1½ tree lengths of the campsite.

-        Carry a communication device/cell phone and check-in at regular intervals.

-        Locations in, near, and downstream of recently burned areas are very susceptible to flash flooding and debris flows.

-        Remember...it doesn’t take a heavy downpour to result in flash flooding on a burn scar. Even a short period of moderate rainfall on a severely burned watershed can lead to flash floods or debris flows. After soils and vegetation have been charred, rainfall that would normally be absorbed will run off extremely quickly.

-        Rapidly moving flood waters can pick up large amounts of debris that can damage or destroy culverts, bridges, roadways, and buildings, potentially causing injury or death. Flash floods in and near burn scars can be life threatening.

-        Dead trees can fall any time.  Stay out of the forest when there are strong winds and if you are in the forest when winds kick up, head to a clearing away from potentially falling trees.

-        Much of the National Forest is remote and medical assistance may not be readily available.  Cellular phones do not work in many areas of the forest.  Visitors should take adequate food, water, first aid supplies and other equipment appropriate for the conditions and expected weather.

-        When building a campfire make sure all campfires are in areas cleared of all flammable material, and that they are properly extinguished. 

-        Vehicles should not be parked near gates or in areas that would impede traffic and block roads.  


Top of page
-------------------
© 2018 Okanogan Country Radio. All rights reserved.