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Wildfire danger level rises in NW Oregon
Continuing warm weather and tinder-dry forest conditions prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) to increase fire safety restrictions on industrial activity on private and non-federal public forestlands in a portion of northwestern Oregon effective at noon today, Sept. 17. The tightening of rules on work activities also affects recreational off-road vehicle users in portions of the Clatsop and Tillamook State Forests.
The step up from Industrial Fire Precaution Level 2 (IFPL) to Level 3 applies to Zones NW-2 and NW-3. Zone NW-2 encompasses eastern Clatsop County and northern Tillamook County. Zone NW-3 takes in Columbia, Washington and Yamhill counties along with a portion of Tillamook County.
The Industrial Fire Precaution Levels, or IFPLs, regulate work activity in the forest including timber harvest and road construction. IFPL 3, also referred to as "partial shutdown," includes the following restrictions:
- Cable yarding prohibited - except that gravity-operated logging systems employing non-motorized carriages may operate between 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. when all blocks and moving lines are suspended 10 feet above the ground except the line between the carriage and the chokers.
- Power saws prohibited - except power saws may be used at loading sites and on tractor/skidder operations between the hours of 8 p.m. and 1 p.m.
The following activities are also prohibited except between the hours of 8 p.m. and 1 p.m.:
- Tractor-skidder, feller-buncher, forwarder, or shovel logging operations where tractors, skidders or other equipment with a blade capable of constructing fire line are immediately available to quickly reach and effectively attack a fire start.
- Mechanized loading or hauling of any product or material.
- Welding or cutting of metal.
- Any other spark-emitting operation not specifically mentioned.
A fire watch is required for three hours following shutdown of work for the day. Maps of the various zones can be viewed on the Oregon Department of Forestry website
The implementation of IFPL 3 overrides a partial waiver that allows use of off-highway vehicles (OHV) including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles on designated OHV areas within the Clatsop and Tillamook state forests during IFPL Levels 1 and 2.
The following areas are now closed to OHV use: The Rogers Basin, Jordan Creek Basin, Trask Basin, Diamond Mill OHV area, Nicolai Mountain OHV area, and Nestucca Trail areas.
In those areas, recreationists must follow the normal rules under a regulated-use closure. These include:
- Smoking prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water, and at designated locations. An "improved road" is a road that has been constructed for automobile use and is maintained clear of flammable debris.
- Open fires such as campfires, charcoal fires, and cooking fires allowed only in designated locations. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
- Restrictions or prohibition of non-industrial use of chainsaws. This includes private woodcutting. An ax, shovel, and fire extinguisher of at least 8 oz. capacity must be kept with each saw.
- The use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, may be prohibited, except on improved roads.
- Possessing the following fire equipment while traveling in timber, brush or grass areas may be required: one axe at least 26 inches in length, with a head weighing at least two pounds; one shovel at least 26 inches in length, with a blade at least eight inches wide; and one gallon of water or one fully charged and an operational 2.5-lb. or larger fire extinguisher.
- Prohibition on the use of fireworks.
- Prohibition on the cutting, grinding and welding of metal in dry, grassy or forested areas between the hours of 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Prohibition on the use of exploding targets.
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