Vale BLM expanding fire restrictions effective July 24
VALE, Ore. – The Bureau of Land Management’s Vale District Office announced today additional fire restrictions will take effect Friday, July 24.
“Normally, by this time of year, the Vale District has implemented District-wide fire restrictions,” Vale District Fire Management Officer Bob Narus said. “The moisture we received in late spring limited the potential for fire spread, however, rising temperatures throughout July have now cured the annual grasses and other fine fuels that carry fire quickly.”
These restrictions will apply to all public lands, campgrounds and recreation sites administered by the Vale District Bureau of Land Management, including the Malheur Resource Area, Baker City Resource Area, the 500-acre National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center site, and Bureau of Reclamation lands within Vale District boundaries.
Copies of the restrictions are available to the public at Vale District offices and posted at campgrounds, developed recreation sites and kiosks throughout the district.
Members of the public should be aware all cross-country travel is prohibited until the order is lifted. Operating or parking motor vehicles or combustion engines is restricted to areas clear of all vegetation.
“We still want people to enjoy their public lands, but we have to balance that with reasonable restrictions to prevent wildfires,” Narus said. “Even though we expect conditions to be near average, an average August for Vale is associated with potential for large wildfires.”
When operating a motorized vehicle wider than 46 inches and heavier than 800 pounds on public lands, users must carry a shovel at least 26 inches in length with at least an eight-inch blade, and a one-gallon container of water or a fully charged 2.5 pound fire extinguisher. All motorcycles, All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV), and side-by-side Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTV) must be equipped with a properly functioning U.S. Forest Service-approved spark arrestor.
“The largest culprit for human-caused fires on lands managed by Vale BLM is equipment,” Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist Al Crouch said. “Statistically, fires caused by motorized vehicles and trailers are second only to lightning starts.”
Equipment refers to many things besides cars and trucks, including, ATVs and side-by-sides, industrial and commercial vehicles and equipment, recreational vehicles, power lines and other electrical mechanisms, chainsaws and mowers, generators, welders, and more.
“Visitors should use caution when recreating outdoors this time of year,” Crouch said. “Be aware of conditions and restrictions, and check for red flag warnings and fire weather alerts. Have a shovel and a fire extinguisher or water readily available in case of an accidental fire start.”
Members of the public are encouraged to report any and all wildfire starts by calling 911.
Although the use of wood fueled campfires, smokers, woodstoves, portable braziers and charcoal briquettes are prohibited, campers and other visitors are allowed to use liquefied and bottle-gas stoves and heaters, provided they are used within an area at least 10 feet in diameter that is clear of all flammable materials.
Smoking outdoors is only permitted within areas barren of all flammable materials for at least a 6-foot diameter, aboard boats on rivers and lakes, or inside a motor vehicle.
Prohibitions against the use of fireworks, tracer and incendiary ammunition, and exploding targets on public lands have been in place across the Oregon/Washington BLM region since May. Metal targets have been prohibited since July 1.
Penalties for violating any of the conditions can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a prison term of 12 months.
For more information on current fire restrictions within Vale District BLM-protected lands, go to www.blm.gov/office/vale-district-office; for all Eastern Oregon agencies, go to http://bmidc.org; or contact the Vale District Office at 541-473-3144.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in the 11 Western states and Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.