Firefighting resources at their limit, so follow restrictions or face more closures

ODFW monitoring access as hunting seasons approach, shares point reinstatement policy

SALEM, Ore.— Nearly 2000 firefighters are fighting the 640 square mile Bootleg Fire in Klamath and Lake Counties, the nation’s largest fire, and few are left to spare if another fire sparks. Umatilla National Forest is closed to all public access because if another fire starts, there are limited resources available to fight it.

Natural resource agencies are imploring outdoor recreationists to follow all fire restrictions. Access to public land during late summer and fall depends on it.

“We need the public’s help in preventing wildfires as our resources are stretched very thin,” said Todd Forbes, Bureau of Land Management. “All human caused wildfires are preventable if visitors will just follow the fire restrictions that land managers put in place. These simple rules will keep you safe and avoid you being responsible for accidentally starting a wildfire. “

The rules are:

  • Campfires prohibited on many public lands including all lands east of I-5. That includes within designated campgrounds. 
  • Only liquid-fueled camp stoves may be used. No charcoal briquettes or other flammable solid materials are allowed.
  • No smoking except inside an enclosed vehicle.
  • Off-road driving is also prohibited in most areas, which includes motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. Driving on vegetation could spark a fire.
  • Vehicles must have either a gallon of water or a fully charged and operational 2½-pound fire extinguisher and shovel (except when travelling on state highways or county roads).
  • ATVs must have a charged and operational 2½ pound fire extinguisher.
  • Additional restrictions as set by landowner.

Know before you go – How to check for access and restrictions

Hunters, anglers and other visitors to public lands are responsible for checking on access and restrictions beforehand. Here are some links to help:

https://wildfire.oregon.gov/Pages/Recreation-Impacts.aspx – Interagency status map of recreation sites impacted by fires

https://gisapps.odf.oregon.gov/Firerestrictions/PFR.html – Oregon Department of Forestry fire restrictions

https://www.fs.usda.gov/visit/forests-and-grasslands?state=42 – National Forests in Oregon (U.S. Forest Service)

https://www.blm.gov/orwafire  – Bureau of Land Management

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/  – Inciweb—Current fires and fire-related closures in Oregon

https://ofic.com/private-forestland-closures/ – Private forestland closure information.

Access and Habitat property closures are typically announced by ODFW via press release. 

ODFW tag refund, preference point reinstatement policies during fire season

ODFW is closely monitoring access for hunters as fall seasons approach, with staff meeting weekly to assess the situation. Currently, southeast Oregon pronghorn hunters are most impacted as their seasons begin in August. Pronghorn hunters with a tag for areas affected by the Bootleg Fire have been contacted with their options which include preference point reinstatement from the controlled hunt drawing in June and tag refund.

“We recognize many hunters have waited years to draw a tag in the most sought-after hunts, and if the majority of the area is closed due to fire, we have a policy and process in place to restore points and refund tags,” said Brian Wolfer, ODFW Game Program Manager. “We plan to be proactive in reaching out to hunters whose hunts are impacted, though we do need a good email address for you in our system to be able to reach you.”

Hunters are strongly encouraged to provide an active email address within ODFW’s licensing system so they can be contacted quickly if their hunt is impacted. Verify your account or update your email address online via ODFW’s licensing system or provide the email address to a license sales agent.

Decisions on restoring points are ordinarily not made until close to the season opener—or even later in the season during long seasons—as conditions can change quickly.

ODFW will be proactive about reaching out to hunters with a tag for an area that has been impacted. But hunters should know that voluntarily deciding to not go hunting is not a reason for preference point reinstatement unless ODFW has offered that as an option for your hunt. Nor are restrictions against campfires, camping or vehicle/road restrictions. Inability to scout before a season is also not necessarily considered a loss of hunting opportunity.

Hunters who exchange controlled tags for general seasons tags before their controlled hunt begins may be ineligible for any preference point reinstatement if no decision has been made yet on options.

 

“Hunters should not apply for point reinstatement weeks before their season even starts,” said Wolfer. “We are actively monitoring and considering access issues and will proactively provide hunters with options if their hunt is impacted.

The agency reinstates preference points (+1 point for the current year’ drawing) and refunds tags when reasonable public access to the entire hunt area is substantially restricted for the entire hunt period. (Reasonable access means some access to at least a portion of the hunt area during the time period when hunting can occur.)

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