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Fire hinders access to area lakes, Rogue River

Stewart State Park and Lost Creek Lake Marina remained open this week, but all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lands around Lost Creek Lake are closed to make way for firefighters battling nearby wildland blazes.

Casey State Park on the upper Rogue River remains open, but all Corps lands upstream of the Highway 62 bridge are closed to anglers, rafters and hikers until further notice. That means rafters escaping triple-digit heat will have to launch at Casey State Park instead of the hatchery, shortening the float to Shady Cove by about a mile.

The closures include the Cole Rivers Hatchery dike and boat ramp, as well as River’s Edge Park between the hatchery and Lost Creek dam, known by trout fly-fishers as the Holy Water.

Also closed are areas around the lake for hiking and boating access, including the Peyton Bridge trailhead and fishing access to the spillway and the Medco Haul Road area.

All of Elk Creek Road from Highway 62 is also closed to public access.

The Merlin-Galice Access Road, which had been closed, reopened Tuesday, restoring access to local businesses and boat ramps in the area. That includes access to the Grave Creek boat ramp, which is the main access to the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue.

Bear Camp and Burnt Ridge roads between Galice and Agness remain closed.

The lands around Applegate Lake remain open.

Fire ban extends in Wild Rogue

Extreme wildfire danger has prompted the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to ban all campfires and cooking fires for floaters and hikers within the wild section of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River.

Only commercial stoves that use liquid or propane fuel can be used there for cooking, and that’s only on sand or gravel bars that are naturally cleared of vegetation and below the river’s normal high-water mark, according to the Forest Service.

The rules will be enforced from the mouth of Grave Creek to Watson Creek near the takeout at Foster Bar.

Smoking is allowed only on a boat or raft while on the waterways, or on sand or gravel bars similar to those where liquid camp stoves are allowed.

The restrictions are set to remain in place until Nov. 30, but they can be rescinded earlier if a change in wildfire danger warrants it, forest officials said.

Parks seeks flexible campsite fees

State parks officials are floating a proposal that would allow them to set flexible rates for their campsites, allowing the agency new chances to spread out campers to more locales.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is seeking public comment on this proposal that would allow the agency to set campsite costs at a per-park rate, thereby charging more for the more popular parks and less at parks with fewer campers.

The change, parks officials said, would spread camping activity out and allow state park campgrounds to house more campers over the season.

Parks officials have set an Aug. 28 public hearing on the issue at its Salem headquarters.

Online comments can be sent to oregon.gov/oprd/RULES/Pages/Rulemaking%20Notices.aspx.

Comments will be submitted to the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission during its September meeting.

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

Unhealthy levels of smoke from wildfires burning north and south plague our area but provide Rogue Valley residents with colorfull sunsets. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennel