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Dry Weather Sparks Increased Regulations

PHILOMATH, Ore. — Backyard burn bans went into effect one month ago, but effective July 15, smoking and open fires are prohibited in certain forested areas.

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is adding restrictions to the West Oregon Forest Protection District, which includes forests in Benton, Lincoln, Polk, and southern Yamhill counties.

The ODF prepares every year for the inevitable forest fires, but this year, fire officials say the weather is drier, and they are taking more precautions.

“Fires are caused typically two ways,” said Blake McKinley with ODF. “Nature causes them by lightning, but mainly fires are caused by humans.”

McKinley says earlier this summer, the district saw two 20-acre fires, which is unusual for the area.

The regulated-use closures that go into effect Monday include bans on fireworks, open fires, chainsaws, and smoking while traveling on unimproved roads in the West Oregon Forest Protection District. The open fire restriction includes a ban on campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires unless they are in designated areas. However, portable cooking stoves with bottled fuels are allowed. Motorized vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, are not allowed off improved roads. Travelers must carry a shovel, a gallon of water, and a fire extinguisher if they are traveling off state highways, county roads, and driveways. Welding, cutting, and grinding of metals is also prohibited. New restrictions include the use of exploding targets and tracer ammunition.

The restrictions are only for West Oregon District Protected Land, so campfires for example are still legal at federal campgrounds in designated areas.

For more information, contact local Oregon Department of Forestry offices or visit its website by clicking here.

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