Fire fears bring cutting ban

Woodcutters have been banned from all logging activities in Hood River County forests because of extreme fire danger.

"When the state says it's dry enough for a level three fire alert we try to protect county resources by stopping all harvest activities," said Ken Galloway, county forester.

He said the closure, which went into effect on Friday, will be enacted until further notice. If the state moves the precautionary level up another notch, to its top level four rating, Galloway said all uses of county forest lands will be prohibited. Motorized bikes and recreational vehicles are now restricted to approved roadways.

Doug Thiesies, forest practices specialist for The Dalles office of the Oregon Department of Forestry, said a level three protection measure is typical during the dry summer months of each year because the fuel load in the woods is extremely dry and any spark from motorized equipment could easily start a forest fire.

On state-owned lands, power saws for industrial operations can be used at loading sites from 8 p.m. to 1 p.m. Cable yarding is also allowed during that time if it employs non-motorized carriages. During both these uses, equipment and water must be available to extinguish any sparks from the operation.

The state has banned private woodcutting on all lands within its jurisdiction between the hours of 1-8 p.m. until further notice. Throughout the county, on both private and public lands, a burning ban is in effect, except campfires in designated state and county parks and some agricultural burning for fire blight with a site inspection and permit. No burning will be allowed until there has been significant rainfall.

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