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New fire-season regs take effect Thursday

New fire-season regulations will go into effect Thursday on Oregon Department of Forestry lands in Jackson and Josephine counties because of hot and dry weather.

Campfires will be allowed only in designated campgrounds. Motorized vehicles will be allowed only on improved roads, and smoking while traveling will be allowed only in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, according to a news release from ODF.

Motorists must have a shovel and a gallon of water or a fire extinguisher at least 2½ pounds in size while traveling on forest roads. People on all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles must have a fire extinguisher of the same size.

Chainsaw use, mowing of dry and dead grass with power-driven equipment, and cutting, grinding or welding of metal will not be allowed between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The restrictions also apply to the Rogue River's Wild & Scenic section, a 34-mile stretch that runs from Grave Creek to Marial. Smoking will be allowed only in boats on the water or on sand and gravel bars free of vegetation that lie between the water and high-water marks. All travelers will be required to carry a shovel and a one-gallon bucket. Fireworks are not allowed. 

Campfires will not be allowed, but charcoal cooking fires built in raised fire pans will be allowed on sand or gravel bars that are free of vegetation and lie between and water and high-water marks. Portable cooking stoves that use liquefied or bottled fuel will be allowed. Ashes must be hauled out.

The 2016 fire season began June 3. The new restrictions will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday on 1.8 million acres of private and public lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Climate prediction models from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast above-normal temperatures for the next three months across much of the western U.S., including southwest Oregon.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.