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ODF tightens fire restrictions in Sweet Home Unit


July 20, 2005

In response to increasing wildfire danger, the Oregon Department of Forestry has tightened restrictions on the Sweet Home Unit, effective July 15.

Some of the key restrictions include:

- smoking prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads;

- open fires prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in installed metal fire rings at designated locations (portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed);

- motorized vehicles prohibited, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, except on improved roads;

- fireworks prohibited.

The regulated-use restrictions also require visitors to the forest to carry firefighting equipment, including an axe, a shovel, and one gallon of water or one operational 2 1/2-pound or larger fire extinguisher.

The regulated-use closure includes all lands protected by the Sweet Home Unit of the South Cascade District, which are within one-half mile of Quartzville Road from Green Peter Dam 16.5 miles to the U.S. Forest Service's Willamette National Forest Boundary.

Descriptions and maps of this area are on file at the State Forester's Office, 2600 State St., in Salem, and at the Sweet Home Unit Office of the South Cascade District, 4690 Highway 20, in Sweet Home, (541) 367-6108.

Carryover moisture from the late spring rains has delayed the onset of high fire activity throughout most of the state. But with the arrival of hotter and drier weather, parts of northeastern Oregon have fire danger slightly above average, while other regions are at average for this time of year.

According to Department of Forestry statistics, fires in state forest lands are down for the period of Jan. 1 to July 15, 2005 compared to the same period last year. This year, 205 fires have burned 406 acres during that period, while in 2004 there were 374 fires that burned 504 acres. This year, 29 of those fires were caused by lightning, which have burned four acres. Last year, lightning cause 63 fires, which burned 55 acres between Jan. 1 and July 15. All the other fires were human-caused.


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