Hunters reminded of high fire danger

August 31, 2005

So much for stealth in the woods. Oregon’s archery deer and elk seasons opened this Saturday at near-record low fuel moisture levels statewide. Crunching as they walk through grasses, shrubs and trees, bowhunters and outdoor recreationists alike are urged to take extra care and precautions this season to avoid starting wildfires.

Public lands are currently open to recreationists, but fire safety restrictions are in force on all jurisdictions. While the rules vary slightly between federal and state lands, in general hunters will be in compliance if they abstain from building campfires and warming fires, limit the use of motorized vehicles to established roads and confine smoking to inside closed vehicles.

Public land managers have good reason for imposing these restrictions on activities in the woods. Every year in Oregon, about two-thirds of the wildfires are caused by people.

The common causes hold for hunters as well as other recreationists: Unattended campfires that spread to adjacent vegetation. The current parched conditions have made the open flame of a campfire an unacceptable risk.

The same goes for warming fires. Even though the afternoons can reach the 80s or even 90s, early mornings are chilly at higher altitudes. A warming fire built while a hunter is sitting on the hillside watching for game is a comfortable convenience, but one that all too often becomes a forest fire. A warming fire left burning or only partially extinguished can spread quickly as it responds to the midday temperature rise and accompanying decline in humidity.

Under the open-flame ban, layered clothing will have to substitute for warming fires this season.

Driving or riding motorized vehicles off established roads is another leading cause of fires. Four-wheelers, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles pose a common threat from the heat and sparks they generate. Current fire conditions make it too dangerous for any off-road use of motorized vehicles.

Even while traveling on established roads, recreationists are cautioned to select their pull-off points carefully. Tall, dry vegetation on the side of the road can ignite if it contacts the exhaust system.

Discarded cigarettes perennially rank among the leading causes of wildfires every year. Smokers who visit the forest must confine their habit to inside closed vehicles or buildings.

The high fire danger has prompted private industrial forest landowners to close their lands to all visitors due to the wildfire risk.

Hunters wishing more information on fire restrictions are encouraged to contact the local land management agency where they plan to hunt.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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