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Bowhunters face woods closures

Bowhunters heading to the woods this weekend for the start of the big-game archery season will be met with wildfire smoke, vast swaths of closed forestland and campfire restrictions in two popular wilderness areas.

Several wildfires are burning in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, and every one has area closures.

“They all have closures associated with them, and the closures remain in place longer than the fire because of safety issues like falling snags,” forest spokeswoman Chamise Kramer says.

For a map of area closures, see https://bit.ly/2MsXNhQ.

Campfires are banned inside the Sky Lakes and Rogue-Umpqua Divide wilderness areas.

The wilderness areas are popular for bowhunters and, later, rifle hunters looking for a more backwoods experience hunting black-tailed deer and Roosevelt elk.

The campfire ban was issued Tuesday by the Rogue River-Siskiyou, Fremont and Umpqua national forests.

The Rogue River-Siskiyou and Fremont forests co-manage the Sky Lakes Wilderness, while the Rogue River-Siskiyou and Umpqua forests co-manage the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness.

The campfire ban does not include the Kalmiopsis, Wild Rogue, Grassy Knob, Red Buttes, Copper Salmon and Siskiyou wilderness areas. All are within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Bear Camp Road reopens

GALICE — Bear Camp Road, the main artery for shuttling Rogue River rafters, anglers and hikers between the river outposts of Galice and Agness and a backwoods access road for hunters, has reopened after wildfire activity caused it to be closed for two weeks.

Having the road as a travel option over the Siskiyou Mountains saves about 90 minutes of travel time, as well as more than $100 for a commercial shuttle for those rafting the Rogue’s Wild and Scenic Section.

However, crews battling the nearby Taylor Creek fire are still using the single-lane road with turnouts, so Bear Camp Road motorists, officials said.

“It’s a huge thoroughfare for the rafting community, but people really need to factor in the wildfire traffic,” Kramer say.

Lightning strikes July 15 ignited the Taylor Creek fire, which has burned more than 52,500 acres and was listed Tuesday at 95 percent containment.

Fire teams closed Bear Camp, Chrome Ridge and Burnt Ridge roads because fire crews used them heavily, Kramer said.

Bear Cramp Road also was used as a back-burning boundary.

Burnt Ridge and Chrome Ridge roads remain closed, and forest officials warn that Bear Camp Road could be closed again depending upon fire behavior.

Ayers earns OHA honors

Oregon Hunters Association state President Mike Ayers of Medford received a Special Recognition Award at OHA’s annual Chapter Leadership Summit this month at Diamond Lake Resort.

In his second term as OHA state president, Ayers has traveled to meet with most of OHA’s 26 chapters in the state, updating members on state-level issues and listening to local concerns.

Most recently he helped establish a new Chetco chapter in Curry County and attended its first fundraising event in July.

“Mike has essentially been an unpaid employee with the hours and miles he’s put in traveling from Brookings to Baker, and he’s won a lot of hearts and minds along the way,” said OHA state coordinator Duane Dungannon. “I don’t know how many of those folks just showed up for the free pizza and beer, but they left with OHA’s message, and we have Mike to thank for that.”

OHA chapters and OHA state board members nominate and vote for OHA’s annual awards.

OHA is the state’s largest hunting organization, with 10,000 members and 26 chapters, tallying more than 25,000 hours of service.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTwriterFreeman.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune An Erickson Air Crane fire copter heads over Ramsey Rd after loading up water.